Monday, May 28, 2012

Week 2 events in Atlanta

Hello! My name is Tanay Rajore. I am a sophomore, pursuing Industrial and Systems  Engineering at Georgia Tech. I was born and brought up in India. I love traveling and have always been interested in visiting different countries around the world. I opted for the Budapest Study Abroad Program since I hadn't been to Eastern Europe before and I thought that Budapest would be a great city to visit and explore over the summer. Besides, I was really interested in all the courses offered by this program, even though they are not directly related to my major.
All of us have finally arrived in Budapest, Hungary and I must say, this city is fantastic! I am so glad I chose Budapest as my study abroad destination. Before we arrived in Budapest, we completed our first two weeks of classes in Atlanta itself. Let me speak about two of our site visits in Atlanta. One of them was to the office of Habitat for Humanity , and the other was to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Habitat for Humanity:

Habitat for Humanity is a social non-profit organization that primarily helps society by building simple, affordable homes for the poor and needy. We visited Habitat for Humanity in Atlanta on Tuesday, May 22 2012. On entering the lobby area, we were warmly greeted by Mr. Mike Carscaddon- Executive Vice President, International Field Operations. Mike guided us into a conference room, where he presented to us some information about Habitat for Humanity.
When we entered the office area, I was amazed to see the professional setting of the organization. During the presentation, I realized that Habitat for Humanity is a diverse, global organization with active projects in developing countries and also some areas in the United States. People of all races, genders and creeds are served by Habitat for Humanity. Mike told us that the houses are built for local communities in the respective countries by volunteers and by the locals themselves. There are no labor costs involved and the houses are sold to local communities at the lowest base price, which is much lower than the market price of the houses. This was the most intriguing topic of our conversation. Mike gave special emphasis on the projects in Haiti and also mentioned the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project, which focused on supporting the Gulf Coast community after hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the region. We also learned that Habitat for Humanity is a diverse group with people from different cultures and political views working together for societal betterment. About 80-90% of the money received from building the houses is invested in other projects.
It was really inspiring to know that although he had an MBA and a secure job in the banking sector, he chose to work for a non-profit organization, for the betterment of society. On the whole, the visit to Habitat for Humanity was extremely useful and was a great learning experience about a social organization in the real world. I am now looking forward to visiting many more social organizations in Hungary.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The CDC is a federal agency that works to protect and improve the health of the people in the United States. We visited the CDC on Wednesday, 23rd May 2012. To start off, the CDC is a high security zone. We spent about 20 minutes just on getting security clearance.After this lengthy security process, we finally entered the main building, where we met Ms. Sandra Alexander, Expert consultant, Division of Violence Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). Sandra took us into a conference room, where we met some other professionals who belonged to the CDC. We also met a gentleman named Chris, who worked closely with the CDC as a consultant and helped them in their research work.
Sandra was a part of the division of violence prevention and our conversation mainly focused on child maltreatment. She told us that apart from just assisting the victims, the main focus of the CDC is to prevent child maltreatment from happening altogether. An interesting fact that we learned was that the CDC’s main role is to plan programs for health promotion and to provide funding to organizations who run these programs. They also provide funding for more research on these programs and on other health related activities.The CDC’s programs mainly focus on Safe, Stable and Nurturing Relationships (SSNR). Research shows that SSNR is good not only for a child’s brain development, but also for his social development.
Next, Chris spoke to us mainly about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). He explained that over 60% of the people in the US have had at least one ACE, and that the healthcare costs on ACEs in the US are estimated to be at around $418 billion annually. He also presented some interesting correlations- for example, higher the number of ACEs experienced by a person, the more likely he is to commit suicide. The numbers and facts presented by Chris made me realize that ACEs really have a great impact on society. Considering that the numbers were only from the US, we can imagine what an adverse effect this condition must be having on countries where departments like the CDC are not set up.
On the whole, I was thoroughly impressed with the way the CDC worked. The visit to the CDC was really informative and I am glad I got the opportunity to visit such an important federal agency.

Budapest, Hungary:
It's been two days in Budapest and we have been touring different parts of the city since our arrival. From the public transport and the food, to the history behind the ancient buildings, we are exploring it all! Classes start tomorrow and our internships will be starting some time this week too. Looking forward to an exciting month ahead. Finally, continue reading our blog and don't forget to leave us your comments!

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