In the hours of today I have talked with people from different parts of the world. I spoke with a group of Italian tourists at the Windhoek clock tower – they were apparently impressed by how well I spoke Italian. I gave them some directions and also a link to this blog. What’s more the man in this group – and I say this without any patriarchal connotations – is a doctor interested in ethnomedicine and one of the young ladies (perhaps his daughter) is studying medicine. How germane then it was for me to give them a link to this blog.
I will mention – briefly – how I met up with Mira Cook, a dancer in the Battery dance company – with whom I danced the night before in a workshop that another company member (Carmen) gave. I say this for the sake of not making this encounter invisible in the account I am now writing. Dance is not invisible in my life day to day, so let me also put some of this to posterity.
Now I want to cut to what I really want to post tonight: my meeting with Iñaqui a Spaniard who works for the Spanish Red Cross and who I had a drink and some chips with at the zoo café. I was waiting for him at the clock tower and as fortune would have it, I had the chance to practice first my Italian and then my Spanish in one day. This was of course not the first time this has happened, it happened once before with Juan Alvazez (I are referring to the Juan the Spaniard, not the Guatemalan who I know and with whom I have spoken to in Italian and tried once in Itañol, but now I wonder what he will think if we spoke now).
In any case, as I was seated on the terrace of this café with Iñaki and we spoke about different things, I came to realize how cool it was (in both senses of the word) to be there with him and chat with him tonight. I also realized I could edify my Fulbright essay using this experience. You see, I am writing about epidemiology and how there is an inherent transience in this field, because diseases are ephemeral – we eitherrecover, die or are modified by a disease, as illness is short lived. What’s more it is repeated transient contacts between persons, from sipping a drink with a companion in a bar to having an anonymous sexual encounter in a toilet or indirectly passing through an area where Plasmodium faciliparum, it vector and other people are common that we acquire disease.
Ephemeral contacts and movements are necessary and sufficient for the spread of disease in human populations. We rely on statistical tools to understand the relationships between various biological, environmental and social factors that permit disease transmission on these short time scales. I therefore need to learn epidemiology and its statistical underpinning to be a scientist who researches disease spread and its dynamics.
This is what I must include in the personal statement – this bit about the ephemeral.
Alright, time to sleep though, my energies too are limited and short lived.
It is through repeated, concerted, efforts on my part that I will make a difference.
So all of this, I learnt by just walking along and having a drink at a café on Independence Avenue? No there is a lot more to it than that, but saying “my university is the streets” sound better.