Culturally Connected: The RFS International Subcommittee

Do you have an interest in bettering the world around you?International

Some of my earliest memories take place at my best childhood friend’s home with her Italian born parents. I distinctly remember running through their backyard with rows of oversized aromatic rosemary bushes and soft, fragrant basil plants.

I also remember the joy of delicately peeling back the silver and blue crinkly wrapper of Baci chocolates at night after dinner. I am not sure if my early experiences with her family imprinted on me a love for other cultures, but one way or another I grew up to love exploring the world and the diversity of the people in it.

I have recently heard a lot of talk about the “millennial generation.” We are the ones that grew up with the internet, the digital natives. There is a lot of interest in who we are and how we think. There are even entire consulting firms dedicated to explaining our generation to businesses. Millennials are generally more culturally sensitive and more frequent communicators compared with other generations, largely because of the technology that grew up around us. Our ability to communicate effectively with other cultures and our connectedness to the world make millennials perfectly equipped to be the generation that builds bridges between societies.

Over three years ago, Rebecca Gerber Kahn explained to me her vision of a group of trainees who would facilitate global aid and intercontinental partnerships in radiology. Thus, the Resident and Fellows (RFS) International Outreach Subcommittee was born through the support of the American College of Radiology. We started out as a small group of individuals interested in joining efforts to make a difference in the world, specifically making radiologic services available to those in need and creating opportunities for interested parties to get involved.

Both Rebecca and I had the opportunity to participate in the ACR Goldberg-Reeder Travel Grant during residency. It was a transformative experience for both us and ultimately influenced both of our subspecialty decisions. As we aimed to help in other countries (Rwanda and Chile in our cases), the unintentional reciprocal rewards were even greater. In every instance that I have aimed to assist a group in need, they have returned with abundant gifts.

The RFS International Outreach Subcommittee is working behind the scenes to attempt to build bridges between groups around the world. We know many of our contemporaries are interested in traveling, in charity and in the combination of the two. We are working to raise awareness for and facilitate opportunities like the Goldberg Reeder Travel Grant and the Ghesani Kajani East Africa Radiology Scholarship. We are working with residents and residency programs for better funding and more sustainable, coordinated efforts in global imaging and education. We seek to aid others not because we are necessarily stronger but because we have unique gifts to share. If we can grow to see these international exchanges as opportunities to collaborate with colleagues with complementary strengths, we will be one step closer to defining our generation as the generation that built bridges to unify people around the world.

By Mary Huff, MD, fellow at the Eastern Virginia Medical School and outgoing chair of the RFS International Outreach Committee

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