Learning in Lusaka

Mia standing in front of SUN-LE banner
Mia at the Scaling Up Nutrition – Learning & Evaluation Office

Hello! It’s hard to believe that its already time to share a final update on my practicum experience. This summer I’ve been working with Scaling Up Nutrition – Learning and Evaluation (SUN-LE) and Dr. Stephanie Martin as a communications intern through the Gillings Zambia Hub. While I spent the first 7 weeks of my practicum working virtually, I also had the opportunity to spend the last 3 weeks in Lusaka, Zambia collaborating with colleagues in-person and sharing more about the projects I was working on.

When I checked in last, I had been making exciting progress on an evidence gap map of maternal and child nutrition research in Zambia and was looking forward to getting feedback from the team at SUN-LE. The process of editing and finalizing the evidence gap map has proven to be one that is both deeply iterative and sometimes challenging. Over the past two months we have worked as a team to significantly refine the information presented in the map. At times, as with many global and public health endeavors, this process required a degree of patience and flexibility. It was often an important reminder that the practicum experience provides opportunities to learn and grow beyond tangible skills. While this data visualization remains a work in progress, I was grateful to be a part of a team that was thinking so critically about the utility of this tool and am excited to continue being a part of finalizing the map.

Mia giving a presentation in a classroom setting.
Giving a presentation on the Evidence Gap Mapping process at the University of Zambia

In addition to working on the scoping review and data visualization components of the evidence gap map, being in Lusaka also provided the opportunity to share more about the tool and the process of generating the visualization. As a part of disseminating information about the map, I was able to deliver a presentation for students and staff at the University of Zambia (UNZA). It was a great opportunity to share my passion for this project and engage with an audience who was not only interested in the final product, but was also interested in learning more about the process of creating this type of data visualization. While much of the technical work may have been able to be completed virtually, being in-person at SUN-LE and UNZA was a welcome reminder of not only the importance of, but also the joy in, relationship building in global and public health collaborations. I hope that I can bring some additional intention to personal relationship building with mentors and colleagues as we continue to navigate a mix of in-person and virtual learning and collaboration.

Group of people standing outside during sunset.
Visiting Lower Zambezi National Park

I am so grateful to my preceptors Dr. Martin and Tulani Matenga as well as the team at SUN-LE and the Zambia Hub for facilitating opportunities for me to be involved in this project and offering their support and mentorship throughout the process!