Adaptability Presents New Opportunities

Talia Rajasekar ’21, finds new ways to have meaningful impact during a pandemic.

This summer 25 students were accepted in the CSGC grants program. These grants are funded due to the generous support of the Cost, Earle/Mendillo and Workman families, who established endowment funds to support the community and public service endeavors of future generations of Deerfield students. For more information on these grants please visit: https://deerfield.edu/csgc/grants

Increasing curfews and lockdowns thwarted my previously planned efforts to volunteer at Dar al Hanan, Muscat’s children cancer center. However, opportunities for a new project made themselves known within the main office at the Oman Cancer Association. Take a little trip with me: You’re visiting the OCA one day. Perhaps you’ve accompanied your elderly mother for an impromptu mammography or you’ve driven your friend to her scheduled ultrasound. Sitting in the waiting room, your wandering eyes land on a coffee table with a colorful of informational pamphlets. Out of curiosity, you pick one up and soon familiarize yourself with the dangerous signs of pancreatic cancer or the detailed steps on how to self-examine your body. This is the story of many strangers who stumbled upon these pamphlets at OCA and later left with newfound knowledge on the effects of cancer and how to identify its early warnings—I have witnessed this learning experience myself during my time as a volunteer.

However, a kind of pamphlet I noticed missing was one that contained information on how to prevent cancer of these various types. Recognizing this gap in preventative literature, I have been coordinating efforts with Protect Our Breasts (a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness about breast cancer) to create a pamphlet with information on how to prevent different types of cancer. Expanding on the breast-cancer-specific information from POB, there are a variety of details from perfumes to avoid to drinks to be careful of as a health-conscious customer. Creating and printing these flyers is an opportunity made possible only through the money provided by the CSGC grant.

I would be lying if I said this pandemic has not altered my perspective on how we can impact meaningful change within our communities. So, even though my plans to work with Dar al Hanan shifted, there was still a magnificent opportunity to give back to my community, an opportunity that came to life with the help of the Earle/Mendillo grant.

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