Lauren Hooberman, a second-year CHS Global Health Concentration MPH student, was the recipient of a Douglas Passaro Global Horizons Scholarship. Lauren completed her practicum in Tel Aviv, Israel during summer 2011. She worked on a project to address Thai migrant workers’ exposure to pesticides.
In what way did this experience enhance or change your career goals?
While many of my peers went to developing countries, I had a different experience in Israel. I lived in Tel Aviv, a modern metropolis, but I also had an opportunity to go on site visits at various farms (moshavs and kibbutzes) throughout the country. The opportunity to conduct public health work in an international setting was invaluable. I feel more confident about pursuing global health work opportunities in a variety of settings after I graduate.
What was the most valuable thing you learned through this experience?
I used a combination of different approaches and strategies. I often had to be resourceful, persistent, and patient while conducting field work. I learned firsthand the difficulties of working in a setting in which language barriers exist.
How do you think this experience will prepare you for work in the field of global health?
This experience will prepare me for work in global health because I have a better idea of what to expect and how to address challenging situations. While I was working on a worker safety project to address migrant workers’ exposure to pesticides, an area which was new to me, I drew upon skills that I learned in my courses at UIC.
How did your perspectives or worldview change as a result of this experience?
Despite having visited Israel in the past, I was unaware of the Thai migrant population in Israel. This experience allowed me to see firsthand the difficulties these workers faced in their daily lives, due to isolation, language barriers, and their status as migrant workers. By gaining exposure to these issues, I developed an understanding of the complexity of international laws and policies and the ways in which they impact migrant worker populations.
What got you interested in this field of research or project?
I had assistance in identifying this project from several SPH faculty members. I am interested in the area of health and human rights and this project was a good fit.
What is your hope for the impact of your research?
The research that I conducted during my practicum is part of a larger ongoing public health project in Israel. The long-term goal of the migrant worker project is to create legislation to mandate migrant workers’ basic job training in a language they can understand, as well as mandating the use of personal protective gear in the field.