To be honest, I don’t have set weekly “duties”. The last 3 weeks has varied day to day depending on what activities my preceptor has planned and what work is available. The first two weeks I spend a lot of time familiarizing myself with the area, students, and faculty there and also a computer software called “R”. For my Health Impact Assessment, I am focusing on air pollution from the petrochemical complex and how that affects the surrounding communities. I will be using R, specifically the “Open Air Package” to plot the data collected from the monitoring stations to determine if there are patterns or clusters of pollutants at a specific site. Because I have never used R before, it took quite a bit of time to get used to the application and learn the functions, especially since it can process a large amount of data. In addition, I read several papers of their previous studies on the petrochemical complex to gain a better direction of my own project, and also how public health is viewed in Taiwan and what areas the government tends to focus on.
This week, my schedule has been a little different. My preceptor is partly teaching a class that runs for about two weeks called “Health Promotion in Rural Communities”, which he suggested I attend, since it is relevant to my project. The first day of class was interesting because I was able to learn background information about the petrochemical complex, such as the struggles and conflicts the government and citizens had with having an industrial complex built so close to the residents, and how the Yulin was chosen to be the site of the complex. Although the majority of the class is taught in Chinese, I can understand the general idea the professors are trying to convey since there are some technical terms that I don’t quite understand. The class schedule is quite different. For the first week, there is class from Tuesday to Thursday for 8 hours a day, with few breaks in between and from Friday to Saturday, the entire class will be taking a field trip to Yulin County to visit the local Public Health Bureau, hospital, and schools in the surrounding communities of the petrochemical complex. A few of the students and I will be staying till Sunday to gather some data for our project, and to visit other towns that pertain to our projects.
I am excited to being going to the site this weekend, because I’ll finally get a chance to see the largest petrochemical complex in Taiwan, and how close in proximity it is to residents living in surrounding communities.