On Saturday May 11, 2019, the Pritzker Chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) hosted the Photovoice exhibit "Through your Lens, a Través de su Lente" followed by a reception at the OPEN Center for the Arts in Little Village, a Mexican American neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago. Led by Arshiya Baig, MD, MPH, a primary care physician at the University of Chicago and an expert in community medicine and improving Latino diabetes outcomes, the event was attended by Pritzker students, past diabetes education class participants, community members, and family.
Over five years ago, Dr. Baig and her research team started a church-based diabetes education program in Little Village where participants, mainly low-income Mexican-Americans, were encouraged to take photos of their lives with diabetes. During the group sessions, participants discussed the meaning behind the photographs they took and their journey living with diabetes. The Photovoice exhibit was an extension of this church-based diabetes education program and with the participants’ permission, we shared photos curated by the LMSA team with the community.
When planning this exhibit, our goal was to support and work hand-in-hand with the Little Village community. We exhibited the photos at the OPEN Center for the Arts, whose mission is to provide a space for artists to come together to share, showcase, and develop their talents while connecting their growth to the community. The event was tabled by Taller de Jose, a social service agency in Little Village that provides bilingual services free of charge including referrals to other services, offsite accompaniment via public transportation, and basic case management. And finally, the food was catered by Flor de Azteca, a collective of survivors of domestic violence. In working with these organizations, we hoped to increase the presence of LMSA in the community and to form new relationships.
The photos, hand-selected for their powerful messages, shared common themes of food, family, the home, religion and spirituality, exercise, and, ultimately, love and hope. Whether the photo was of a fast food advertisement found in the community, of religious icons in the home, or a message of hope and perseverance in the form of a bird in flight, every photo told the story of a person who was resilient and thriving.
Photovoice would not have been possible without the participants and the photos they shared with our team. Our event was a success thanks to the support from our various sponsors and partners including: the UCM Section of Internal Medicine, the Urban Health Initiative, the Office of Civic Engagement, the BSD Diversity and Inclusion Office, the OPEN Center for the Arts, and Taller de José.