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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is to be a leader in creating
a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Grace completes her student placement

My name is Grace and I am studying for a Master’s degree in Leadership for Sustainable Development at Queen’s University Belfast.

From 21 January to 14 March 2019 I have been with Belfast Healthy Cities (BHC) for the placement part of my course.  Although this is only an eight-week internship, it has taught me a lot of knowledge that I cannot learn in class.

The beginning of this experience is particularly memorable. It was the first time that I have worked in a place where language and culture were unfamiliar, I was so nervous that I was a little helpless. The warm and kind colleagues gave me a lot of help, allowing me to integrate into the work of BHC faster. This makes me very grateful to them.

In the days that followed, I worked as a research assistant in Healthy Urban Planning (HUP) area at BHC. My main job was to read and summarise the Heathy Urban Planning literature review including relevant United Nations and World Health Organization documents and local Northern Ireland policy such as the Belfast Agenda.  This was not only a job for me, but more importantly, it has taught me more about HUP.

Academically, this information helped me understand how to improve people's health through healthy urban planning. On the other hand, this knowledge goes deep into my own thoughts and behaviours. It made me realise that health is not only in hospitals and pharmacies, but more importantly, building a healthy lifestyle in life. HUP includes planning transportation and housing which can help people to change their environment, which could improve human health significantly. This has become the driving force for me to change my behaviours such as more walking in life than driving, and choosing foods which are not processed and with simpler packaging.

For me, this internship experience has been memorable and meaningful. As a student on the Leadership for Sustainable Development course, my work at Belfast Healthy Cities has enabled me to meet a lot of experienced colleagues and improve my academic knowledge. Furthermore, it motivates me to change my life and to be more involved in sustainable work.

You can find my final placement presentation here.