What an extraordinary time it was hosting Strake Jesuit College Preparatory HS for a visit to Rice on November 5. This was the first Civic Humanist field trip to host a private school since the program’s inception and we couldn't be happier with the results. Strake's Director of College Counseling Jamy Champenoy along with chaperons Nancy Rodriguez and James Saltzman arrived with thirty college-bound students, all dressed nicely wearing ties and button-up shirts (see picture below!).
The trip kicked off with a boom thanks to Abby Goode's stellar lecture in the elegant - I’m tempted to call it ‘theatrical’ - McMautry Auditorium in Duncan Hall. Her talk was on “outbreak narratives,” exploring the ways medical research is in complex tension with portrayals of illness, disease and health in public life, especially in light of the exponential rise of technology and globalizing forces of communication. In this way, Abby highlighted how media and other cultural venues narrate and often exaggerate disease outbreaks, even as they reveal the very real and troubling human struggles we all face in dealing with the ethical and interpretive implications of laboratory research and equitable approaches to human well-being and the educative potentials of the medical humanities.
Students then headed over to Fondren Library, first welcomed by Amanda Focke of the Woodson Research Center and then split up to view two different presentations related to the medical humanities - one by Focke and the other by Philip Montogomery and Sandra Yates of the Texas Medical Center (TMC) library. The group viewed all kinds of fascinating and historically significant artifacts related to Houston’s history of medical practices and earliest pioneers.
For instance, Amanda showed students the first ever recorded journal that documents nursing practices in Houston before nursing officially existed! “The Epidemic of 1878” by Mrs. K DePelchin was written in the form of journal letters to an anonymous recipient, which were recorded as copies for her own records, sharing her experiences of caring for victims of the Epidemic. However, as Focke explained to the curious group of Strake Jesuit students, these may not have been actually written to anyone because the letter style of writing could have been the most effective way for DePelchin to create the text. Philip and Sandra also shared a variety of archival materials and objects from the 1800s. Click here to view the TMC's digital collections.
*Amanda Focke presenting 19th century Houston archival materials related to some of the earliest pioneers of nursing and medical research
The presentations of Focke, Yates, Montogomery and Good altogether proved an extremely interesting and immersive glimpse into the heart of the medical humanities, both in the past and in comtemporary public life. Jackie Rios, Treasurer of Rice Medical Humanities (a student-run organization) assisted with the field trip, and provided a wonderful ad hoc tour of different features of Rice's quad and some interesting (and even a bit mischievous) details about the statue of Willliam Marshal Rice.
Students wrapped up their experience with lunch in the beautiful courtyard in front of the Rice Art Gallery, while beginning a creative writing prompt given by Good. Click here to view some of the students' work.
*Group picture of Strake Jesuit HS at Rice