seek, pray, love

Lauren Hall, Guest Writer

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has a big mission: Protecting Health, Saving Lives – Millions at a Time.

– About JH Bloomberg SPH

Millions at a time?

What does it mean to “love your neighbor” when thinking at the population level, “saving lives millions at a time”?

– TY

Ivory tower standing tall,
Who’s the most privileged of them all?

Prior to arriving in Baltimore, I had a lot of questions about how much of a tangible impact the SPH community made on the surrounding city. Was Hopkins just an ivory tower? Does she practice what she preaches in the place she resides?

I asked a former student about this who said Hopkins has not been great about engaging the community historically. As of late, there have been greater strides made toward this end, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

When I arrived in Baltimore, I found a striking difference between it and Berkeley. Whereas Berkeley held some quirky & endearing charm about it, I couldn’t say the same about this new city. Panhandlers and others were a lot bolder in their requests, & the streets seemed to become more desolate around 10 or 11 pm. Neighborhood blocks were sporadically boarded up with no logic to their placement.

There were Red Sox games against the Orioles the weekend my family & I flew in, and a score of Boston fans had traveled to be at Camden Yards and were staying at our hotel; you couldn’t walk Inner Harbor without seeing at least one couple or family sporting their allegiance in red. By the time Monday came around, they were gone – parents back to work and children getting ready to start school. I couldn’t help but think about the consumerism surrounding it all, the freedom to come into a city & take of it what one pleased, leaving upon satisfaction.

Ivory tower standing tall,
Who’s the most privileged of them all?

Despite all the well-meaning questions I had about Hopkins’ community engagement before coming, my first questions since being here have not been about how I might invest in this city but rather surround my personal safety & if I can call this city home.

I wonder how liable I am to merely come into Baltimore & take of it my Master’s degree, leaving upon satisfaction. I wonder how liable I am to hold my breath throughout this next year with plans to seek a field placement during my second year elsewhere in the States.

Knowing this next year is my only year of school, I have been asking myself what it looks like to steward it well – to be fully engaged in my classes, to discuss issues at length with my classmates, to actually go to my professors’ office hours & learn beyond the reading assigned. But now I ask myself: how do I not only steward my time as a student well but also my time in Baltimore well? How do I give to her & not merely take from & pass her by?

Public health as a profession is becoming more and more popular—but what exactly is it?

Here’s a good way to describe the essence of public health.

In the medical field, clinicians treat diseases and injuries one patient at a time. But in public health, we prevent disease and injury. Public health researchers, practitioners and educators work with communities and populations. We identify the causes of disease and disability, and we implement largescale [sic] solutions.

– What is Public Health?

As I learn to “identify causes” & “implement large-scale solutions” to “save lives millions at a time”, I hope that I may learn to love more alongside it all. I hope that I may not have understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge but have not love – in either earthly or heavenly sense.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

– Jeremiah 29:4-7

Here’s to Baltimore: to the houses I will learn to build, to the gardens I will learn to plant, to the theories I will learn to apply, to the formulas I will learn to memorize, to the streets I will learn to navigate, to the city I will learn to embrace – may I seek your welfare, may I pray for you, may I learn love.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s