Last Thursday, we gave presentations on the group essays we wrote for our tracks. Both groups in our track chose themes about globalization/development and its relation to the concept of ”interculturalidad” between Western and Indigenous medicine in Ecuador. When we finished with the presentation part of the class, we had a debriefing with our professor. She asked us to share our experiences in relation to the different conceptions of health and medicine we’ve encountered here. She wanted us to share our feelings, not the theoretical and analytical points we wrote about in our papers. She complimented us for our work, but said she was interested in how we reacted internally, for example, during the limpia con cuy.
I can’t remember being asked for my personal feelings from any educator in a long time. Our professor made it be okay to feel skeptical of these new systems of knowledge and ways of promoting health. After all, we’ve only just been exposed to this new cosmovision. I have had frustrations with the capitalist, Western system prior to this adventure, but if I am truly honest with myself, I don’t completely accept indigenous medicine at this point. I want to. It’s difficult to change my idea of health care from one of experts and evidence to one that encompasses the total well-being of an individual in their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Our professor shared an example of how uterine cancer can be caused by poor relations with the woman’s partner. That to treat the cancer, the woman needs help resolving whatever negative aspects exist in her relationship. Herbs and forms of body cleaning can help, but the woman won’t be completely well unless her mental/emotional health is improved.
I like to be hugged when I don’t feel well. Someone told me that older women who live alone or in nursing homes get their hair done weekly just to be touched. That seems tragic to me.