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Global health at Carnegie Mellon

“Globalization” has become a common term that refers to topics like economics and technology, but now it is beginning to include the medical field as well. “Body, Mind, and Spirit: Prescriptions for Global Health,” the theme of Carnegie Mellon’s International Festival this year, was a way to introduce the public to current global health issues.

The three-day event, which ran from Thursday through Saturday in the University Center, featured a variety of lectures, activities, and performances all dealing with the issues of global health. The event opened with a Benefits and Fitness Fair, which provided Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff with information on health and fitness options and benefits open to them through the university. Participants were also offered free flu shots and the opportunity to donate blood to the American Red Cross.

Karin Arnds, a private practicing therapist and member of Carnegie Mellon’s Student Counseling Center, led a workshop on autogenic training, a deep relaxation technique that uses the mind and body to heal the effects of stress. Participants of the workshop learned the theory behind autogenic training and some exercise techniques to help them achieve extreme relaxation and inner peace.

The main attraction and keynote speaker was the founder of Doctors Without Borders in North America, Richard Heinzl. He began the organization in Canada in 1988, and it quickly spread to the U.S. Heinzl urged the crowd to get involved in community health problems, to look at the world outside their hometowns, and to make a commitment to helping others.

On Thursday night the festival featured the movie Lost Boys of Sudan, an Emmy-nominated documentary that tells the story of two Sudanese boys who survive the loss of their parents in a civil war, get attacked by lions, and are shot at by African militiamen, eventually ending up in a refugee camp in Kenya. The boys then move to America, and the remainder of the film reveals their adjustments and cultural struggles with contemporary life in the United States.

Another film, An Inconvenient Truth, was featured on Friday night. An Inconvenient Truth is a story about global warming; the movie was released in hopes that it would be a major warning to the global community about the condition of our planet. Its creators predict world catastrophe in 10 years if people avoid fixing the problems that humans have created. The film, however, comes across as neither negative nor preachy; it is really just a story about former Vice-President Al Gore’s crusade to stop global warming. After his defeat in the 2000 election, Gore made a lifelong commitment to saving our planet. This film, released at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, presents Gore as the public has never seen him, rallying Americans to join him in this environmental battle.

In its 16th year, the International Festival’s goal is to create awareness, celebrate diversity around the world, and educate the public on global issues affecting fellow human beings every day. “Body, Mind, and Spirit: Prescriptions for Global Health” was just one more way to further the goal for the students and staff at Carnegie Mellon.