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Alternative Weekend Trip

Immigrant and Refugee Health in Clarkston, GA


About The Trip: 

Project SHINE (Students Helping in Naturalization and English) works with immigrant and refugee populations throughout the United States. At Emory, our program serves our community partners by providing assistance in naturalization test preparation, vocational skills, enrichment activities, and scholastic achievement. Through prolonged interactions with those we serve, our volunteers see the tangible results of their work. The populations we serve face many challenges beyond those we currently focus on during weekly service trips. Our alternative weekend trip is focused on learning about immigrant and refugee health in Clarkston, GA, a designated refugee resettlement site. We will learn about the health disparities and inequity that immigrants and refugees face in wellness and in the difficulties they may encounter in accessing healthcare. Through this trip, we will learn how health disparities within the immigrant and refugee population are currently being addressed and how we can continue to mitigate these inequities in the future.

About the Social Justice Issue: 

The disparity in access to affordable and reliable health care is an especially prominent issue in Clarkston due to its large immigrant and refugee population. The low-income background of many of the individuals in this community bars them from obtaining the comprehensive medical plans and insurance that others have access to. Limited resources and a lower standard-of-living can also cause increased risk of illness, which often goes untreated. In addition, the language barrier affecting recent immigrants can impede effective communication of patients’ medical needs. Ultimately, the unequal distribution of healthcare resources, coupled with socioeconomic differences, contribute to the health disparities inherent in the Clarkston community. The aforementioned organizations and programs that we will be working with are helping to rectify such inequity and improve the overall quality of life of these individuals. The alternative weekend trip focuses not only on immigrants’ and refugees’ physical health, but also mental health and health literacy as well. Through this multifaceted approach, we will gain a greater understanding of the many aspects of healthcare disparities, in addition to the wide variety of resources available to help alleviate these issues.

About the Leaders: 

Madeleine Lowery is a senior at Emory studying Biology and Comparative Literature. She has been involved with Project SHINE since her freshman year. As a pre-medical student, she hopes to combine her interest in health disparities with her Project SHINE background. She continues to volunteer through Project SHINE and is now the Vice Chair for Site Coordinators on the Executive Board. Madeleine’s other activities include research assistant, pre-health peer mentor, academic fellow mentor, and academic coach.

Joey Birchansky is a junior at Emory and is a Biology major. He has volunteered for Project SHINE as a Site Coordinator and now serves as Vice Chair for Placements. Other activities have included participation in Emory Reads as well as Copy Editor for The Emory Wheel.

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