The academic success: A dream killer

Nohemie Mawaka Wednesday, November 12, 2014 Permalink 0

By: Nohemie Mawaka I am now a quarter done my master’s degree in Public Health and I have to say that is fascinating how much I have learned in such a short period of time. Although it is exciting to learn about the various opportunities that come with the field of health, it is at times daunting. From a very young age, I always saw myself pursuing high education simply because coming from Kinshasa, DRC, where many are limited in their outlook on life due to poverty and social construct. I always told myself that education is my option in life. While my father is a realist who achieved great success in his career through education, my mother is a dreamer who goes through life pursuing various interest and opportunities that life has to offer. That is where I come in. I am both a realist and a dreamer.

This is where my long life journey of obstacles begins. I have always thought of myself as someone who is intelligent. First let me define intelligence in my own words: Humans are born with a blank state of mind (Tabula rasa) but acquire intelligence by seeking wisdom. That is why I never agree with those who say “some people are naturally smart”, what does that even mean? During my undergraduate studies I loved biology, chemistry and physics but never seemed to get high grades. The majority of science courses at my previous university graded students with standardized tests (i.e: Multiple choice). For some odd reason, no matter how hard I studied, how many hours I spent at the library; when writing a standardized test my brain freezes and nothing seems to make sense. Even worse is the fact that, most professors often trick students with having the most confusing multiple choice answers just to make the level of testing more difficult. No one gets evaluated through standardized testing in the professional world or elsewhere in the real world, so why push for it in academia? It is not an indication of one’s intelligence. Luckily for me I got into graduate school with a fairly good GPA. Yet, even in graduate school when competing against thousands of researchers for grants, the academic committee making final decisions on which student gets selected, still boils down to marks.

I am aware that the system is the way it is and there is no other way around it. I have to get better at standardize testing if I want to succeed in my dream of becoming a successful researcher in health sciences. Sadly, I am certain that I am not the only one who struggles with this. Even worse, people like me who have a thirst for knowledge and education, with dreams of doing good for the world with our future career practices. We end up at the bottom of the academic intelligence scale, simply because the education system says so. Am I frustrated? Yes. But am I going to let it stop me from pursuing my long-term goals of one day obtaining a Ph.D? No. In the end, I believe that hard work pays off, with much persistence and perseverance, the sky is ultimately the limit and I will continue to pursue my dream.

Here is my favorite TED talk which discuss a similar concept of what I have just discussed.

Photo source: Nohemie Mawaka

Passion is what will help you create

the highest expression of your talent.

Recalling the origins of global health

Nohemie Mawaka Tuesday, September 30, 2014 Permalink 0

While public health continues to be a growing field in much demand, the term global health appears to be a more recent sector of health. This encompasses juridic policies and legislations which have an impact on the work done in this sector. In the book Reimagining Global Health by Farmer et al., part of this text does great work at painting the voyage from which global health originated to where it is currently heading. Despite many of its triumphs, such as health interventions and disease preventions; the field of global health as we know it holds its failures. Celebrating ones victory is important, but my particular interest lies on analyzing pass failures of health initiatives and appreciating new solutions moving forward.

Particularly when looking at the many ways in which false information was delivered to the general public such as homosexuals being mentally ill and at the origin of HIV. Although research has proven this to be false, large corporations such as the UN which is parent to the World Health Organization; the largest health corporation from which most global health standards come from have failed to maintain its original goals such as keeping the peace between countries at the time of war in Rwanda. With these errors the general population becomes at risk. Not only did pass political errors unintentionally contributed by the UN lead to war between Rwanda and the DRC, Democratic Republic of Congo, this continues until today for reasons beyond the damage caused by the UN. Corporate failures in properly doing its work led to many diseases developing during war. Nonetheless, without such disasters organizations like the WHO would not be of much use. While reading Reimagining Global Health (chapter 2, p. 15-32), one learns that global health as we know it today is the product of many legalistic laws and structures put in place by those in power, moreover found in large corporations. Could organizations such as the WHO be who they are today as a product of larger corporations mistakes, which ends up costing the lives of many? Or do we look at global health as part of a corporative system whose pass good deeds out ways the bad?

#pornography use

Nohemie Mawaka Thursday, May 29, 2014 Permalink 0

By: Nohémie Mawaka

A few days ago I turned on Netflix and accidentally watched a movie about the journey of four recovering sex addicts. In this film came a sexual scene that was very graphic. Afterwards, I had this imagery stuck in my mind everywhere I went. This made me wonder: if a glimpse of a movie scene is hunting me this much, what clinical affect must pornography have on those who constantly watch it? Therefore, I read several articles on the affect of pornography and tried to understand why it is now a twenty-two billion dollar industry.

I have found multiple responses to these questions. The most popular response has been the convenience of receiving temporary sexual satisfaction at your own timing. Another one was that many people, mostly men, feel a sense of control in knowing that they are able to perform sexually without the pressure or approval of women. As well, pornography creates a mental fantasy that makes one believe in a sexual world that “may” happen by over indulging without having anyone know about it. Pornography research has consumers’ perceive realism of the portrayals. Such perceptions are likely to be important mediators of whether consumers may influence their beliefs and attitudes or behaviors in the real world, (Hald and Malamuth, 2008). While depicting people actually engaging in sexual acts, often portrays an unrealistic picture of sexuality as it is practiced in real life. Some who are not as sexually active, find themselves stuck with the visual imagery of pornography and therefore continuously go back to watching it for the sake of having that initial sexual fantasy. In marriages, some husbands have testified feeling ashamed to ask their wives to have sex of the sake of having sex, because their wives may want to be made love too instead of feeling used for just ‘sex’. On the contrary, to my surprise some marriages have even testified that pornography and masturbation saved their relationships by putting less pressure on both individual to perform in bed. These positive views tends to be rejected by religious groups to whom online sexual activity is an act of betrayal and adultery, correlating with emotional infidelity (Poulsen  et al. 2013).

Now, what might the consequence of this be? Many spouses prefer pornography over making love to their partner. Women more than men viewed the use of pornography as a doubt for rather their partner was committed to the relationship. A study done by Schneider in 2000 showed one-half of compulsive pornography users’ spouses reported that their partner who used online sexual entertainment compulsively had lost interest in relational sex. Furthermore, for some men whose women did not approve of them watching pornography, it made them redraw from the relationship. For men, for whom there is a higher pornography usage; they showed aggressive sexual behavior for the most part when watching violent pornography. This may also correlate with the fact that for pornography to be an attractive activity, it requires a certain threshold of sexual desire which is mostly held by men. This becomes dangerous among teenage boys who watch this as a form of education to learn about sex; alternating their view of women and marriage. Along with consistent exposure to pornography may influence an individual’s satisfaction with their partner’s affection, physical appearance, sexual curiosity, and sexual performance. Most research focus on the effect of pornography among men. Whilst some research show a smaller percentage of women admit watching pornography with their partners to helped express their sexual desire. Little evidence support the benefits of pornography usage, while many more studies appear to testify its negative short and long-term consequences. This is truly concerning since most of today’s society spends most of their time online where pornography is easily accessible.

F. O. Poulsen, D. M. Busby and A. M. Galovan. Pornography Use: Who uses it and How it is associated with Couple Outcomes. Journal of Sex research, 50(1), 72-83, 2013.

Gert Martin Hald and Neil M. Malamuth. Self-Perseived Effects of Pornography Consumption. Arch Sex Behav (2008) 37: 614-625.

Schneider, J. P. (2000). Effects of cybersex addiction on the family; Results of a survey. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 7, 31-58.