Probably the most unexpected at the end of this experience is the impression I now have of the community we came to know, understand, and be a part of: Lakewood. The many hours and days we spent wandering the streets of Lakewood in the summer heat ended up being memories that came with their chuckles. It’s the unexpected, from the man half naked and covered in tattoos but so excited to help spread word of the Family Planning Clinic’s services, to a young biking enthusiast with seemingly not a worry in the world but taking a intense interest in the little information cards we handed out, even to an older woman with a proper perm, cold eyes, and some snippy words that signaled quick distaste for our work.
Overall, we were quite fortunate to have worked with a community willing to welcome us and hear what we had to say. I definitely give credit to the Lakewood residents for their embracing attitude, but I also know that it was partly our young and friendly faces, casual presentations, and a simple desire to help one another that allowed us to immerse ourselves into Lakewood. We learned that these characteristics are in fact the strengths of that community, and when combined, they gave us opportunity to open discussion on a sensitive topic and hopefully make way for better holistic healthcare.
The people, the environment, and the spirit of Lakewood have even made me think every now and then that I could become a resident of the community. I baffle myself when I think about how I vowed to move and explore other areas post graduation, and yet I may have found potential for a new home. Who knew? The things Capstone will open your eyes to…But no matter where I end up in my adventures later on, I will certainly remember the lesson I learned: from the wealthy to the poor, the majority to the minority, no matter the surface images of communities, underneath the struggle is the same. And so that is what public health is: striving to dig out and challenge these underlying struggles by adapting to different communities as a means to resolution, to the ends of equal opportunity in healthcare.