The topics discussed in Global Health and the thoughts raised our Movement Matters blogposts throughout the semester leave a conflicted sensation in my mind as I look forward to the end of the semester, the Holiday break, and everything that goes along with Winter in Vermont and at Middlebury. My partner and I discussed at length the heightened awareness we experiences in relation to our bodies and physical activity, spurred by the original Bees movement matters class. As athletes, we were both constantly exposed to opportunities to feel the effects of movement on our mental and physical health and overall happiness. This has contributed to me developing a deeper understanding and passion for healthy nutrition, too. I know sublimity of an amazingly hard workout, and I’ve now realized that nutrition is one of the most important factors in being able to access this “runner’s high” more often. Through learning about nutrition deficiencies in class lectures, I am certainly more aware of the privilege I have. Giving my body what it needs to feel its best is never a question of accessibility here at Middlebury. And yet, while I hope that higher awareness has allowed me to be more empathetic with those who suffer daily from nutritional deficiencies, or any global health disease or issue for that matter, I know that my worst nutritional days are still miles ahead of billions of people in this world. I don’t know what it is like to be truly hungry, because I’ve never been placed in that situation. I’ve never known of the toll a chronic disease can take because I am protected through immunization and my illnesses always resolve in a few days. More importantly, while it is so easy for me to empathize with my classmates who are also busy finishing final essays and studying for final exams, I still find it difficult to empathize with those with “real problems”—the life-threatening ones, the ones that don’t disappear when we submit the final assignment and pack up for the holidays. Even when I’ve been most diligent about considering the world around me, I feel like I’ve come up short.
But, as we presented our elevator speeches on Tuesday, I realized the depth and breadth of the multitude of global health issues at stake in today’s world. There will never be a world without these problems, and so trying to empathize with each one of the harrowing stories or cruel mistreatments out there is impossible. What the class has given me, though, is a thorough look at the parts of the world that are so easy to ignore here at a private college in Middlebury, VT. Being exposed to these realities hasn’t always been easy, but I believe it is necessary. And in the process, I have found myself empathizing with some of the causes, and quite strongly at times. We can only make an impact on the world one step at a time, so really, we don’t need to have a broad empathy for everything, we really just need to have strong and sincere empathy with a single cause—and then choose to act on it.