Community Awareness — Final Empathy Exercise

This issues discussed in Global Health this semester combined with a heightened awareness of my community that I have developed through writing weekly blog posts for “Movement Matters” have led me to form new opinions on problems that Middlebury students face and where those problems fit in on a global scale. Early in the semester, Pam asked us to anonymously write something that others might not know about us on a piece of paper. She later read those answers aloud, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that said they were depressed, had anxiety, or were struggling with body image. I remember thinking, “wow, I never would have guessed that SO many people who look so put-together are really struggling inside.” I carried this thought with me this fall as I began to focus more thoughtfully on my surroundings and the students that make up the Middlebury College community. Using our global health class as a random sample of college students, I figured that if that many people in one class had mental struggles, mental health must be a rampant issue on this campus. I kept that sentiment in mind when noticing other students going about their busy lives. We are trained in our society to display a high level of function and self-control, which is often just a façade. Underneath the many well-dressed, high-performing students are individuals who are struggling with something not visible from the surface. When viewed on a global scale next to infectious disease, violence, and malnutrition, these mental struggles may seem insignificant. However, it is undeniable that they have a large impact on our community. We spent all semester discussing global health issues, but before we can change the world, we need to able to empathize and understand our own community. Becoming aware of the issues within my community is a good first step.

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