Mary Weng, 2013 GHLI Fellow
I arrived in São Paulo amidst the wave of protests where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Brazil each night. The protests started out as a small movement against transportation fare hikes, but have spiraled into a nation coming together to fight for better health, education, and public services. The energy among the people is contagious, and I have no doubt that I am witnessing the making of Brazilian history.
My work here focuses on improving the vast inequity of access to early child development programs, and I think this issue is especially meaningful in light of all the people demanding a better quality of life. Support in early childhood has been associated with higher school attainment, lower crime rates, and higher incomes. The delegation I am working with consists of key players from many different sectors: academia, municipal and state governments, and the NGO sector. One of my most interesting roles in this project is to serve as the middle person to improve coordination between the different sectors. I am grateful to have the opportunity, early in my public health career, to learn about the widespread challenge of translating health policy and research into effective delivery of services.
I have to mention all the FUN I’ve been having as well! I arrived in time to attend a “Festa Junina” (June Festival), a celebration with great food and “quadrilha” (square dancing). Last weekend, I spent time in the beautiful city of Campos de Jordão. While I was there, I was fortunate to catch an amazing concert by the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop (Yale ’77). I’m so excited to see where this project goes, and plan on making the most of the precious weeks I have left. Tchau!