Meet Leena Ghalib - student at Global Health
26 years old Leena Ghalib, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, is a student at the Master’s Programme in Global Health at the University of Gothenburg.
Hi Leena Ghalib! Why did you choose the Master’s Programme in Global Health?
– I have had an interest in health topics and health matters ever since I was in high school. I knew that I didn’t want to go to medical school, but I wanted to do something related to medicine. I really enjoyed my bachelor’s degree in business administration and instead of going directly into the private sector, I got an internship for ten months at the UN in Geneva, where I lived with my family. My team and I worked mainly on operational and administrative matters with ‘Scaling up nutrition’, ‘Roll Back Malaria’ and ‘Global Humanitarian Lab’. I became more and more interested in working in the public sector, and in health overall, and that’s why I ended up studying global health.
What is interesting to you about this programme?
– The area of global health is very broad. This programme allows you to kind of make your own programme in terms of which health problems and which diseases you want to focus on. I think that’s what I’ve found to be most pleasantly surprising. Of course, this might also be challenging, because you have to find your own interests and decide what to focus on. You also learn the major concepts and themes and you’re provided with the tools that you need to understand different health-related topics.
The programme offers a field course focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. What have you learned from the course?
– In the field study, the task is to find an organization that works with a vulnerable population and interview people to identify a relevant health problem. From there, you design a health intervention. If it wasn’t for the current Covid-19 situation, we would have gone into the field and met people. However, we have resorted to Zoom interviews instead. I’m interviewing people from a network that hosts new arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers in Gothenburg. This is by far my favorite course, and I think these are skills that every global health professional absolutely needs to know.
– In the course we also get basic knowledge about health intervention methodology and how to include risk groups in the design of a health intervention.
This international master’s program attracts students from different backgrounds and places.
– Yes, there’s a big variety in terms of countries of origin, academic background and work experience. We have physiotherapists, nutritionists, doctors, dentists and dental hygienists to mention a few professions. I think I was the most farfetched since my background is in business.
– Everybody has something to bring to the table and something to take away. I think any background can be applicable to global health somehow, someway.
What are your plans after graduation?
– I want to work with target groups directly, hopefully with mothers and children. My family comes from Sudan and I’d really like to work there or in another country in Africa. Otherwise, my home town Geneva is really good for somebody who wants to work in Global Health. Geneva is the Global Health hub.
About the university and about Gothenburg
What do you think about the teachers?
– Oh, they’re so lovely, I like them a lot. I don’t know if it’s the Swedish education system or my teachers, or if it’s a mix of them both, but I feel like the professors come across as your peers more than superiors in the way they teach you, in the way they discuss matters with you and in the way that they accept your differing ideas.
– I knew that Scandinavian countries in overall had teaching methodologies that were different, but calling teachers by their first names like you do here - for me, it was so strange. In the beginning I was like: “Tell me your last name, I cannot use your first name!” But I think that it removes a major barrier, both of trust and of good communication.
What do you think of Gothenburg as a city to study and live in?
– I must say that Gothenburg has grown on me overtime. When I first came here I had a bit of a cultural shock. In Geneva and Switzerland overall, it’s very common that when you’re walking in the street and cross somebody you say “Bonjour”. When I came here I learnt that that translates into “Hej, hej!”. So I walked the streets, smiled and said “Hej, hej!” to people. But they just looked at me without saying anything back. I felt a little bit down about that at first. But it’s a completely different culture, it’s not that people are rude or cold. Another culture shock was that I had to speak with a calmer voice than I usually do. On the positive side I was very happy to know that so many people in Sweden speak English fluently!
TEXT: ANNA VÖRÖS