If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, What’s a Selfie Worth?
by Lisa Shawcroft & Sruthi Chandrasekaran
Global Health Corps is a fellowship program that aims to create the next generation of global health leaders. The program model pairs two fellows — one national and one international — within a placement organization and gives them tools and supports them to develop into confident professionals. While certain things during our fellowship were beyond our control, we knew there was one thing we could always count on: each other.
Over the past year, we took a selfie together every day we were together — usually in the office, but as our project gained momentum, we got more creative, snapping photos during retreats, on co-fellow date nights and even during Skype chats.
We love our selfie collection because it illustrates the evolution of our relationship from strangers to steadfast supporters of one another, and capture so many memories from this past year, even if they just barely capture both our faces in the same frame.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but we didn’t feel like it was right to wrap up this year without getting in one thousand words or less about our selfie project.
If you had to choose one selfie that sums up the fellowship year, which would it be, and why?
Lisa: May 29: Sruthi was in Ethiopia and I was at a roundtable discussion on contraception access for youth. This is indicative of our diverse roles (and experiences). It also illustrates the bond we formed over the course of the year — even when we were on opposite sides of the world, we tried to take a selfie because it connected us. I can’t imagine not having her around in a few weeks — and not having a co-fellow in my next job! #CoFellowLove
Another close second:
Sruthi: My pick is the selfie of us which was processed to look like us when we are old. Though it may not be reflected outwardly, we’ve become more mature professionally and personally. And we hope to grow old together, so that picture is pretty perfect!
Looking back to the selfie from our first day at MSI, what do you see? What do you wish you had known then?
Lisa: Mostly my face looks sooo tired from lack of sleep for the two weeks leading up to our first day! It’s funny to look at this picture — Sruthi and I were laughing about it yesterday — because both of us look so uncomfortable taking a selfie in Starbucks and uncomfortable with each other.
I wish I had known on my first day that it was all going to be OK. That there would be hard days, and harder days, but there would also be days that made the hard times worth it. #itsGoing2BOK
Sruthi: I wish I knew where to look when taking a selfie — I’m squinting! Jokes apart, I wish I had known that this year was going to be a challenging one. It’s been challenging to work on myself professionally and personally and to have Lisa as an ally in that process has been a tremendous source of support.
You recreated your first day selfie on your first anniversary at MSI-US. Comparing those two photos, how do you feel you’ve grown: personally, professionally and emotionally?
Sruthi: Professionally, I have gained great clarity on policy advocacy in the US and developed a keen interest in sexual and reproductive health. This year has helped sharpen my focus and widen my horizons by pushing me to think about reproductive health and rights in India.
Personally, I’ve grown to learn how to deal with transition. I’ve also come to understand how simple things like taking a selfie everyday can bring transformational changes to a relationship in the longer run.
Emotionally, I’ve become a stronger person and learnt how to better handle stressful situations. I’ve also learnt how important it is to have a community you can relate to and share your thoughts with.
Lisa: We haven’t really changed much physically. We got haircuts. Gained a few pounds here and there, lost them again. Nothing too dramatic. At the end of the year, we’re still us: Lisa and Sruthi (@lisa.and.sruthi.ghc). And I’m glad for that, because I think where we started was pretty great.
I think the same can be said for me personally. I’ve grown a lot over this year, and that’s as a result of a lot of introspective work. I’ve learned to focus on me rather than strive for others’ acceptance. That’s served me well in my professional life, too. For once, not having a clear idea of what I want to do next seems fun and exciting rather than completely terrifying. (Still a little scary, though!) #Lisa2.0
If you could sum up this fellowship year in a hashtag, what would it be?
Lisa: It’s cliché, but: #changemaker. For the times when it felt sooo ridiculously far from who I was and what I was doing, the times I used it ironically and for the magical few times when it felt exactly right.
In ten years, what will your selfie look like? Will you still part of the movement for #healthequity?
Lisa: In ten years, my selfie will be me, calm, confident and happy with where I am in my life. I’m less concerned with the rest of the details. I believe that being part of the #healthequity movement is more about your core values and beliefs and less about your profession or degree. #Lisa2025
Sruthi: Lisa and I at a conference pertaining to reproductive health, with Lisa bossing me over. We are both doing what makes us both happy — believing health is a human right.
I hope to find my way through my interests in policy, economics, developing countries and reproductive health in working towards health equity.
Lisa Shawcroft and Sruthi Chandrasekaran were 2014–2015 co-fellows at Marie Stopes International in Washington, D.C. All GHC fellows, partners and supporters are united in a common belief: health is a human right. There is a role for everyone in the movement for health equity. Join the movement today.