Claire Gwayi-Chore, PhD student in Global Health Implementation Science and an esteemed Global WACh research assistant, is a recipient of the 2019-2020 UW Canadian Studies Center’s Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship to support critical French language training in combination with area studies courses.
Her fellowship will help initiate an independent research project evaluating systemic barriers and facilitators to primary health care access by francophone Africans within Canada’s Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP), which provides health care coverage to all asylum-seeking refugees. The lack of evidence surrounding the understanding of these systemic barriers that refugees experience is a major threat to the health of this vulnerable population. As an immigrant from Kenya, this issue is of personal importance to Claire, and her choice of study stems from her interest with the current agenda set forth by Canada’s administration that prioritizes the health and safety of all refugees entering the country.
“Learning a new language has really expanded the scope of my work,” says Claire, “My global health career is centered around ensuring that Ministries of Health, their in-country technical partners, and communities feel empowered and included in defining the priorities for designing and implementing public health research and practice. Therefore, learning French brings me closer to my francophone colleagues and communities by being able to discuss and address these issues collaboratively.”
As a Global WACh research assistant, Claire lends nearly ten years of experience implementing large-scale school- and community-based interventions within impact evaluation settings in low- and middle-income countries to support implementation science research within the DeWorm3 Project with trial sites in Benin, India, and Malawi. Her Beninese colleagues inspired her to learn French after observing the impact of the language barrier on the study’s implementation.
After completing the rigorous Elementary French three-course series at UW this year, Claire now has a limited working proficiency of the language. She is traveling to Benin this summer after receiving the Department of Global Health’s 2019-2020 GO Health Fellowship and the 2019 African Studies Ottenberg-Winans Fellowship to conduct an independent research project nested within DeWorm3 and to continue building her language proficiency. Her FLAS Fellowship will initiate next academic year to support her continuation to the Intermediate French series, after which she hopes to start her independent research on IHFP.
This research reflects Claire’s career goals of using implementation science to provide community-driven evidence to shape effective public health policy and practice. For Claire, learning French has transformed how she envisions advancing her career; she has extended her goals to include collaborations with public health researchers and implementers who work in, with or on behalf of francophone citizens across the globe.