A day with the big shots

Michael and I had a really great week at work last week. We are finally getting settled into a little routine in the office and making some solid progress.

We had the opportunity to attend the 29th Nutrition Cluster and Partnership Group at the National Institute of Nutrition.  Michael and I were so grateful for this opportunity.
We sat next to people from UNICEF, WHO, FHI 360, Irish Aid, Save the Children, PSI, and many more highly thought of NGOs. It was incredible. To think, we, simple summer interns, had the opportunity to listen to and interact in discussions concerning maternal and child nutrition from some of the biggest names in the game.

The meeting was very organized and stuck to a pretty tight agenda. The organization PSI was in attendance and gave a presentation on their new program, a social marketing campaign to improve maternal and child nutrition in rural Vietnam through attractive and innovative packaging of two pre-existing nutritional products. It seems like a really interesting project and it was continually mentioned how behavior change is at the core of this total market approach. Of course, Michael and I loved to hear this. We are really hoping to bring our health behavior knowledge into some of the projects HKI has started.

Michael and I also had the opportunity to attend the World Breastfeeding Week meeting in Hanoi. This meeting intended to lay the framework for Vietnam’s plans to participate in this worldwide event in August. If you know Michael, you know he is incredibly passionate about this field. He was even able to pass out a pamphlet that he co-created, designed to increase male partner participation and support of breastfeeding. Many of the representatives discussed the theme for the event, which is “Close to Mothers,” and they hope to focus all of their events on peer support, peer counseling, and overall family, community and societal support of mothers who are breastfeeding. The deputy Minister of Health and a development specialist for UNICEF asked for HKI’s input and requested we attend another meeting in the coming weeks to express any ideas we had for specific events. We are really excited to be able to represent HKI’s involvement in this and are hoping this will become a staple in HKI nutrition projects.

Overall, these meetings were great experiences for Michael and I. We were able to see what public health careers look like. Not only did we see how applicable health behavior and behavior change communication is to real world settings, but we also were able to see its role within HKI. We are very excited for what is to come this summer and are, again, so grateful.

Lastly, I would be mistaken not to mention the celebration we had in honor of Helen Keller’s birthday. All of us from the office had an incredibly tasty, traditional Vietnamese lunch to celebrate our brilliant namesake. It, of course, was topped off with chethai, a delicious chilled coconut and cream drink with an assortment of jellies. Think of a coconut milkshake with gummy worms. I am certain Ms. Helen Keller would have loved it.

Go Heels,

Casey and Michael

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Categories: Asia-Pacific, Reducing Malnutrition

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