Senior Synthesis…Yeah I Feel Sad Now…

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Life has the strangest ways of working it’s way out, it takes patience and time to grow into the individual you’d always hoped to become. I came to Plymouth State to be a nurse, to pursue my ultimate goal; improving the life of another person. I was so caught up on this idea that it was the only way to achieve my goal, until a I “failed”. It wasn’t until now that I realized, that my “failure” was actually my savior. Interdisciplinary Studies gave me the opportunity to be who I wanted to be with out limitations and utilize my education to the fullest degree. With this opportunity I was able to create my own major, Global Health with a minor in Spanish Language. Global Health addresses the well-being of people, ranging from high to low income countries and developing countries. The concerns within them include infectious disease as well as chronic and non-infectious diseases, age-related illnesses, and disaster relief conditions. In addition to more common health conditions, Global Health works with mental illness, trauma, violence, war and displacement. The goal of my Senior capstone project was to  combine both my research article and applied project, to educate individuals on how an interdisciplinary perspective such as Global Health, “can put things in a new light”.

Research Article

The goal of my research was to educate the reader of controversies that come with humanitarian aid assistance abroad. Humanitarian aid assistance is given to vulnerable populations who are plagued with violence and poverty. This aid can also target communities facing post-disaster reconstruction. The assistance can be short-term or long-term with the ultimate goal being to improve the lives of suffering communities. This article touches on what humanitarian aid is, who are the donors and recipients, what their relations entail, how humanitarianism and disasters relate and whether or not foreign aid is an unequal exchange. The term “humanitarian gift” is analyzed greatly throughout this article. The main focus of this research is to see the detrimental effects that can occur in another country if aid is given with selfish intentions. I chose to conduct this research because I wanted to challenge my own beliefs. I had become so wrapped up in the happy idea that I was helping others and improving their lives, that I never once stopped to think, what if they didn’t want my help? What if me voicing my opinions and my ideas was actually harmful? My experiences abroad gave me a new perspective on life that changed me for the better. Now that I wish to pursue a career in this field it is my responsibility to cover all the bases, whether it be positive or negative.

Applied Project

Changing the World Through Service: a Step by Step Guide has one main goal, and that is to inform the reader on how humanitarian aid is helpful.The information a reader can take away includes: the importance of humanitarians, in depth steps to planning your own service trip abroad, how to respect someone’s “dignity”, what is the meaning of privilege, what it means to be human & how they are affected by resources. In addition one can learn from my guidelines on how to be a “conscientious humanitarian”, and seek other experience through interviews with local NH humanitarians.

Conclusion? This Only the Beginning…

I had always heard that if something in your life is easy, it isn’t necessarily worth it. Being a student in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program here at PSU made me work toward a diverse education I am extremely grateful for. I learned how to be self sufficient and motivate myself to take the reigns of my everyday education. It opened doors to different branches of study, which strengthened my ability to think from a multitude of perspectives. Most importantly, I learned you do not have to stay satisfied with one discipline, depending on one’s mindset an IDS student can take the opportunity to become an expert in as many disciplines as they wish. My senior capstone project exemplified that there is a world out there for me, waiting to be explored. To be interdisciplinary, is a quality I believe everyone should strive for.


Heinrich, Tobias. “When is Foreign Aid Selfish, When is it Selfless?” The Journal of Politics, vol. 75, no. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 422–435., doi:10.1017/s002238161300011x.

Princova, Kveta. “Ethical Challenges in Humanitarian Assistance” Socialmi Prace/Socialna Praca May 2011, pp. 40-48. Print.

Swamy, Raja. “Humanitarianism and Unequal Exchange.” Journal of World-Systems Research, vol. 23, no. 2, Nov. 2017, pp. 353–371., doi:10.5195/jwsr.2017.681.

Torrente , Nicolas de. “The Relevance and Effectiveness of Humanitarian Aid: Reflections about the Relationship between Providers and Recipients.” The Relevance and Effectiveness of Humanitarian Aid: Reflections about the Relationship between Providers and Recipients, vol. 80, no. 2, June 2013, pp. 607–634.

Wood, Reed M., and Christopher Sullivan. “Doing Harm by Doing Good? The Negative Externalities of Humanitarian Aid Provision during Civil Conflict.” The Journal of Politics, vol. 77, no. 3, 2015, pp. 736–748., doi:10.1086/681239.

The Last PLN Hoorah!


Photo by Andrew Mager

Sitting here writing what seems to be my last PLN related post is unreal. I feel as though last week was September and I was sitting in class going over our new IDS Senior Capstone course syllabus and weekly PLN post instructions. The purpose of Twitter was to help explore different aspects of your self designed IDS major. This included organizations, celebrities, spokes people, charities, and campaigns who pertained to the field of your choice. Through the resources above, students could find more and more opportunities to explore.  As a Twitter feed began to build so did the ease to find new ideas, journal articles, scientific studies and news reports. My personal learning network was not limited to my Twitter account, I was able to use information learned in my classes, community lectures sponsored by the university and other information seen along the way. For example one of my most interesting PLN experiences was from the Fall 2017 Saul O Sidore Lecture Series. I initially attended the lecture simply because learning about advocating for a child’s access to health care was something that interested me. It was not until after the lecture I realized how it could tie perfectly into my Global Health personal learning network.  What is most beneficial about having a PLN through Twitter is it’s community aspect. Especially with fellow classmates it is a great way to share ideas related to another person’s desired field while in your own! A large improvement on my applied project was because someone shared an article with me that they saw on Twitter while scrolling through their feed. Due to this encounter I was able to strengthen my project! Lastly, what I found to be most beneficial about my PLN through Twitter were future career opportunities in the Global Health field. As a senior going into my second semester of college the pressure is starting to hit me. Simply scrolling through my feed I have seen opportunities for employment in which I hope to pursue. I am lucky to have an education where I mix social media to help improve my learning. To get a closer look at some of my favorite PLN tweets click here!

Think Before You Selfie

Volunteering Abroad? Read This Before You Post That Selfie

Written by Malaka Gharib

Photo by: SAIH Norway/Screenshot by NPR

I was very excited to write this PLN post for two reasons. One, I found it all thanks to my awesome advisor and professor who happened to think of me when she came across the article. Two, it was a perfect addition to my senior capstone project!! This article really hits home because it is criticism like this that originally made my blood boil and fuel my motivation to research the harmful effects a person can cause when in a culture that is different than their own. This summer was the first time in my life I questioned humanitarian work and it scared me. While in Argentina my roommate and I had a conversation and she said something along the lines of “I hate how people go into other country’s for a week and take pictures with all the little kids acting like they actually have an impact on their lives”. It felt like someone had punched me in the gut. I felt so hurt feeling and hearing criticism about my passion for the first time in my life. Initially, this article gave me the same exact feeling. But as I read on it gave me inspiration toward my applied project.

The article opens with a youtube video showing a girl frustrated with the fact that she wasn’t getting many likes on Instagram, she later realized in order to accumulate more likes she must travel to Africa to take photos with african children and patients laying in hospital beds.  But hey she got a spike in her Instagram likes!!

“Think before you selfie”

This is the serious message that is being promoted by Radi-Aid which is a project of the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH).  Their campaign aims to fight stereotypes in aid and development through guidelines targeted toward first-time travelers or young volunteers eager to capture every moment of their vacation or mission on Facebook or Instagram. What stood out to my most in the article was this: “according to the campaigners, the selfie takers may not realize that their posts, from the photo to the caption to the hashtags, can perpetuate stereotypes and rob the subject of dignity or privacy”. In addition to this campaign, the Barbie Savior Instagram account also was created to help show how the dignity of those who are in these selfies can be affected. This account spoofs volunteer photography by recreating popular images using Barbie dolls and Photoshop as a way to promote awareness to the public. This article was extremely beneficial for me and my applied project because I will be showing a person how to plan their own service trip!