“Of Course, It Will Not End”: Learnings from Health Care and Social Action Course

Health Care and Social Action 2018
Faculty: Babak Etemad, Stephen Karnik, John Safapour

Rolando Maddela, a Bahá’í living in a suburb of Dallas, Texas (and now in Salt Lake City, Utah), USA, “grew up in the Philippines in a paradise valley called Nueva Vizcaya.” He says he recalls “climbing the verdant mounts of the Sierra Madre and the Cordillera and swimming in the clear waters of the Magat River.” He goes on to say that “Natural food was abundant. The air was clean, and every inhalation was a blessing from God.” He described how he and his parents “used to go up to the mountains . . . , sleep in our cabin, and wake up the next day to gaze on the magical clouds below us.” “It was,” he writes, “pure happiness to grow up in an unspoiled place.” Rolando’s training was in Public Health and Nutrition; now he is involved in clinical trials and research. He concluded his introduction of himself by saying, “I am a man of few words, and English is only a second language.” As we share some of what Rolando learned in the Wilmette Institute course Health Care and Social Action 2018, we have to say that he has something of the poet in his soul.—THE EDITORS

A goal-setter, Rolando Maddela began the course on Health Care and Social Action by setting clear tasks for himself. In his final Self-Assessment, he concluded by saying that he had accomplished the all goals he had set for himself:

  • I was able to familiarize myself with and understand some existing models of health and wellness and explore concepts in the Bahá’í writings that might contribute to these models.
  • It was good to know the various definitions of health and wellness as defined by some agencies and to compare their strengths and weaknesses.
  • I understood before how happiness affects health and wellness, but the course gave me more examples and insights that I can share with colleagues.
  • It strengthened my learnings and understanding of the Bahá’í views on health, wellness, and happiness and how these can be applied to the individual, the community, and even service in institutions.

In summarizing his understandings and insights gained from the course, Rolando was short and to the point:

Really the learnings were straight forward, and I shared my insights in the Forum posts. There were comparisons of health models, analysis of wellness models—some of them wordy or dated—but the more I read them, it became clearer to me why the Bahá’í teachings are pertinent today.

As for the skills he acquired, Rolando noted that “it takes discipline to read, digest, and learn from this kind of distance learning. It helped me appreciate the points of view of the other participants who posted and why they have a certain perception.

Closely related to the skills Rolando learned were the new attitudes he experienced and his strengthened beliefs:

The attitude of having an open mind and being in a learning mode is what I continued to experience while taking this course. Again, it was interesting to read the points of view of others and to learn from them. We cannot have blinders like a horse deprived of peripheral vision—we need to see and hear the opinion of others. It helps us understand a concept more.

I would not say there were changes in my values and beliefs, but rather the course strengthened my belief in what the Bahá’í teachings say about health and wellness, about social discourse and processes involved.

Rolando sees ways in which he can use what he learned in Health Care and Social Action both in his work and in his Bahá’í community. In his work in public-health activities, he says that “This course is really helpful, as it will enrich the topics that I usually deliver on health and wellness.” In his Bahá’í community, he is planning a presentation for a Feast and is incorporating quotations from the course into two devotionals, and he anticipates giving a fireside on health care and social action.

Perhaps the best news of all is this: “Of course it will not end with the above scheduled events, as there will be more opportunities to share in other venues.”

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