Greenwich Academy talks global health

Greenwich Academy (GA) recently welcomed a cast of distinguished speakers to the school for its Symposium on Global Health.

Now in its third year, the Symposium is designed to engage Upper School girls in discussions with industry experts on a topic of global consequence.

This format allows students to understand the complexity of a given global issue while exploring the topic through a variety of lenses.

“Global Health encompasses opportunities and challenges that affect us all,” said Head of School Molly King. “As an all-girls’ school, with girls and women throughout the world experiencing daunting circumstances, it is our privilege and solemn responsibility to be informed so that we can engage meaningfully with these issues and help find solutions. This is fundamental to our mission at Greenwich Academy to be leaders for positive change.”

The breadth of this topic and the backgrounds of the 16 speakers ensured a “morning of lively and thought-provoking discussion” according to the school.

A number of the Symposium speakers had professional and personal ties to the GA community, including keynote speaker, Robert Michler, father of a 2012 graduate and a former “Dadrigal.”

In his keynote speech, Dr. Michler, Surgeon-in-Chief at Montefiore Medical Center, discussed his experiences in founding and managing the non-profit, Heart Care International (HCI). In the 18 years since its inception, HCI has performed cardiac surgeries on almost 800 children from indigent communities in developing countries.

The group’s impact, however, has extended far beyond those 800 families because of its focus on sustainability.

Sharing personal stories of heartbreak and triumph, Dr. Michler’s keynote was moving and motivational.

And, despite the global nature of his organization’s work, he emphasized that, “In the end, global health is about the treatment of one person at a time.”

After Dr. Michler’s speech, students had the opportunity to attend two 45-minute breakout sessions of their choice. The 15 sessions included topics ranging from, “HIV Research: A Lesson in Success and Humility,” to “Uncommon Diagnosis: Immigrant Populations in the US” to “Living the Reality of Malnutrition in a Refugee Camp.”

These small group sessions allowed for interaction and discussion between students and presenters.

This year’s Symposium also marked several firsts. It was the first time girls from other schools were invited to attend the Symposium — and GA was delighted to host students from Miss Porter’s, Greenwich High School, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Taft and Greens Farms Academy.

It was also the first time that GA live-tweeted from an event.

With the help of many global scholars and members of the STEM interest group, the school was able to share insights from the keynote and breakout sessions with the world, in real-time.

Symposium co-chairs Ann Decker and Connie Blunden closed the event with a heartfelt thank you to all of the speakers on behalf of the school. As she thanked Dr. Michler for his participation, Ms. Blunden shared the expression, “The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away.”

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