A New Approach to the Same Mission: Global Brigades Summer 2021 Highlights

Aug 20, 2021 8:20:00 AM | From the Field A New Approach to the Same Mission: Global Brigades Summer 2021 Highlights

In June, Global Brigades welcomed back in-person brigades for the first time since early 2020. Check out a few of our favorite 2021 summer highlights!

Published: August 26th, 2021

Written by: Marketing Associate, Ashley Farhat

With Global Brigades University Chapters starting to be welcomed back on campuses across the globe, it’s time to reflect on a successful summer of in-person Brigades and virtual TeleBrigades.

In June 2021, Global Brigades welcomed back in-person Brigades for the first time since early 2020. Brigade season kicked off with the University of Oklahoma Medical Chapter and the New York-Vermont Nurses Group in Honduras.

With Covid-19 safety precautions in place, brigades look different than before, but the meaningful connections and impact made remain to be one of the most powerful aspects of a brigade.

Check out a few of our 2021 summer highlights!

GB brigade highlights with Medical Brigades volunteers
Volunteers from the University of Oklahoma Medical during their Medical Brigade in Honduras this summer.

“The world is better when we work together.”

Stevie Saxon, the University of Oklahoma Medical Chapter’s 2020-21 Chapter President, reflected on her meaningful leadership experience shortly after kicking off the return of in-person brigades.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am for this organization, this country, and my amazing group. You have given me so much in the three years I have served with you, and I mean it when I say that leading you all was one of the greatest joys of my life.

This group of 26 volunteers was able to work with hundreds of people in four communities in areas of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, and education. I have never been as proud as I was to see the people our executive board and I have been training for years come into their own as global public health workers and future healthcare providers. All the sleepless nights, long zoom calls, stressful emails, and months of preparation were worth it when I saw these people working alongside the beautiful, strong people of Honduras to create a brighter future for everyone involved.

The world is better when we work together, and I’m so grateful to know that Global Brigades is in such wonderful hands.” 

– Stevie Saxon, University of Oklahoma Medical Chapter, Honduras Medical Brigade

GB brigade highlights with Medical Brigade volunteers and chapter leader Stevie Saxon.
OU Chapter Leader, Stevie Saxon (third from the left), and OU Medical Brigade Volunteers

Despite all the changes, our impact remains.

Setara Khan, a volunteer from Texas’s Metroplex Medical Centres Chapter, found meaning in both the differences and familiarities from her two in-person brigade experiences before and after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Honduras is a people and place like no other, so it was very special to return to the country that has left a mark on me. At first, I was sad that I was not going to interact as intimately as before with the communities because of Covid-19 policies in place. However, I quickly realized that we were still making a large, if not bigger, impact in the communities.

I learned so much from the medical staff while assisting in check-ups, eye exams, and filling prescriptions. It was great to reunite with my friends on the GB staff and to make new ones. Whether it’s the drivers, translators, or brigade coordinators, they welcome us all with love and kindness that truly reflects the Honduran culture. I also bonded with the other students on the brigade – we went in strangers and came back besties!

Overall, my brigade was an unforgettable experience full of personal growth as well as sustainable aid for the Honduran people. I am so grateful for GB and the Metroplex Medical Centres Chapter for this opportunity.”

– Setara Khan, Texas Metroplex Medical Centres Chapter, Honduras Medical Brigade

GB brigade highlights with Medical Brigade volunteer Setara Khan.
Setara Khan, Medical Brigade Volunteer

The first GB Virtual Leadership Institute

Our virtual TeleBrigades programming was initiated upon the temporary halt of in-person brigades in 2020. Virtual accessibility has proven its effectiveness, so online opportunities were extended to our annual Leadership Institute.

GB brigade highlights with Global Brigades CEO dr. Shital Vora speaking on a Leadership Institute.
GB CEO, Shital Vora, speaking on the Virtual Leadership Institute

“The 2021 Leadership Institute came together through collaboration across Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, United States, Ghana, Greece, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, and Nicaragua – a special feat as we simultaneously begin to welcome volunteers in-country again. A tight-knit group of Global Brigades volunteers and leaders were able to connect virtually over the week to think critically about the Holistic Model while being open to sharing their experiences with being leaders throughout the pandemic.

The focus of this year’s Virtual Leadership Institute was to provide this team with the tools they need to re-engage programming abroad as Global Brigades moves beyond 2020. Interactive sessions included virtually shadowing our medical clinic in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, meeting Panamanian business clients to learn about their successes and challenges, and chatting with the Nicaraguan team about the future of Public Health, Engineering, and Water programs. These opportunities were rounded out with time spent on Ethical Volunteering with the Volunteer Engagement and Marketing Teams, GB Foundations with CEO Dr. Shital Vora, and what’s next for GB with staff members Steve Atamian, Ben Erker, and Pablo Garron.

“We are looking forward to seeing the impact these students make on campus this semester and hosting more volunteers next year!”

– Rebekah Kawas, Global Brigades Volunteer Engagement Associate

Get Involved During the Academic Year!

Summer may be coming to end, but opportunities to get involved with Global Brigades are here to stay. Visit Global Brigades University Chapters to see if your university has an active chapter and get started!

Written By: Ashley Farhat