In this second semester of AY2014/15, NUS students enjoy the chance to read a new module, NM4883C, Communication & Asian Holistic Healthcare. The module is taught by Associate Professor Evelyn Ho who is visiting from University of San Francisco where she is professor at the Department of Communication Studies and the Asian Pacific American Studies Program. A/P Ho’s teaching and research interests lie in exploring the intersections of health, culture and communication.
She shares with readers, among other things, her thoughts on the importance of culture in health communication research, on what patients can teach us and on her penchant for an oft-used interpellation:
I entered into health communication research, and specifically, the culture aspects of health communication research because of my initial interests in cultural communication research. I remember a moment when my White American roommate went to the acupuncturist and having never gone before, I asked her “How was it? Did it hurt?” Her response stuck with me. She said, “Don’t you know? You’re Chinese!” I knew years later there was something culturally important in that conversation.
What I learnt from patients in my studies is that they need to be heard. They are talking to me because they believe that I am in a position to do something with the information they are sharing. This has been particularly humbling for me because while sometimes I am in a position, many times I am not.
An aspect of research that policy-makers ought to recognise is that people are usually much more complex than the aggregate and that people themselves – communities/groups/individuals need to be at the table when those policies are made.
An urgent issue / area which researchers in public health should address today is inequality in access to care. The best teachers I know have insisted that if health care is not free to the poorest among us, we have not accomplished anything.
To me, health is being well enough to thrive and operate freely in the world.
And to be healed is to return to the state of health.
A personal pursuit I have not tried but would be keen to do is climb Mount Kinabalu, although I’m not sure my old knees would handle the pounding.
A word I frequently use is “dude” – I try not to but it just sometimes comes out – there’s a great article about this term that I use for teaching, written by Scott Kiesling. Like that article states, sometimes it’s used as a condolence “Dude, I’m sorry.” or sometimes as an expression of surprise “Dude! Get out!”. Unlike an actual “dude” though, I never use the drawn out “duuuuude” to show acceptance.
If I landed a million dollar research / teaching grant, I would keep doing what I’m doing with less administrative duties! I love the teaching and research and honestly, most of the service I do back home I care deeply about too because it promotes various critical diversity issues on campus.
A visitor to San Francisco got to realize that it is much colder there than you think! It’s often windy and foggy and you should always bring a jacket with you. Once armed with a jacket, then get outside! There are amazing nooks and crannies all over our very small (7 mile by 7 mile) peninsula. You can walk all the way across from Bay to Beach in just a few hours and see everything from bison, to waterfalls, to skyscrapers, to outdoor murals, to museums, to sea lions, and hear many languages in the mix.
Singapore is so lush and tropical. I’m loving all the different plants and flowers. The people I’ve met so far have been kind and open and super helpful!
And I have come here to learn from Singaporeans about health