2018 Fulbright Global Health Innovations Seminar Atlanta, Georgia, 28 Feb-4 March

Being an impatient optimist

As one grows older our capacity to be surprised decreases, however, from times to times we find ourselves fascinated by some achievements and minds. That happened to me last March in Atlanta during the Fulbright enrichment seminar.
Imagine that we could offer you a free day per week, a free day that would count for your time here on Earth, but you could do whatever you wanted. Congratulations, you won that extra day. Every generation lives more a day per week than the last generation that has been true for the previous 100 years. Isn’t that remarkable? We are not mindful of the gifts of modern societies, being cognizant of the bliss is only one side of the coin, in many parts of the world disparities are rampant, and health challenges mount.
Gathered for three days in Atlanta, Georgia, more than 100 young professionals discussed the challenges of modern societies and how can we bring that extra day per week to everyone. We had some of the brightest minds in a range of different sectors, a German artist, who wants to reinvent the work of Robert Frank in the Americans, and shared with me his nights spent documenting the opioid crisis in Baltimore. Or an Australian-Pakistan Human rights lawyer who is trying to debunk the rights of families affected by war. To document all the personal stories that touched me would be too exhausting for the reader, but I can share that all those stories made me more humble but at the same time reenergized me, and the epitome for the success of multiculturalism.
Finally, let me share a story of a real hero, Dr. Bill Foege former director of the Centers for Disease Control. For a doctor like myself, it’s good when we can alleviate suffering; it’s fantastic when we can cure. However, only a few of us can say that they helped to eradicate a disease, Dr. Foege was a determinant piece in the smallpox eradication, and impersonate the meaning of the expression “We stand on the shoulder of giants” (he is really tall). If you have 30 minutes free, listen to his speech, you won’t regret it.
Thank you to Fulbright, and to the Fulbrighters students and scholars for this fantastic experience.

André Peralta-Santos
Seattle, 29th April 2018