Alexander Goggins

Alexander and children from an Afro-Ecuadorian community
Alexander Goggins, International Studies and Global Health

This past summer I was fortunate enough to spend some time living in local Afro-Ecuadorian communities in northern Ecuador. During this time, I worked on the research project of a Ph.D. candidate and conducted community outreach activities. The project examined the relationship between broiler chicken husbandry and antibiotic resistant bacteria in humans. This involved conducting household interviews to better understand the socio-ecological context of this practice. During my time there, we immersed ourselves in the local community; we lived in a local family’s home, we cooked and ate with the family, and we attended the community events with the family. We also held a forum to connect with the community and hear their questions and concerns, hosted community social events such as bingo nights, and gave lessons to the schoolchildren about bacteria and hygiene. Furthermore, we created and distributed a graphical cartoon guide to the families, so that they could better understand the role of bacteria in the world regardless of education and literacy level. During his life, Raoul Wallenberg made a point to interact and learn from people on their own terms. This had a large impact in his future work, and I hope to honor his legacy by following his example. My interaction and immersion in the Afro-Ecuadorian communities gave me a unique perspective on the lives of people so different from my own. It helped me better understand their culture, as well as the resilience of the human spirit as a whole.