Yale’s first-ever Health Activities Bazaar attracted nearly 200 students on Saturday.
Organized by Sophia Yin ’18, the policy chair of Yale Medical Professions Outreach, the bazaar was a gathering of health-related organizations at Yale. These organizations sought to attract freshmen and upperclassmen alike who were interested in joining undergraduate-led health organizations. The event was sponsored by the YMPO, the Public Health Coalition and Dwight Hall. Yin said she wanted to provide an organized gathering of health groups in order to make them more accessible and well-known to the student body.
“We wanted it to feel more like Dwight Hall’s [Service] Bazaar than like the huge [Extracurricular] Bazaar they have in Payne Whitney,” Yin said. She admitted that the event was inspired by her own experience. “I’m a pre-med, and there are so many health organizations on campus that I didn’t know about or I would’ve joined them.”
She went on to say that even though she could join the organizations in her junior year, “at some point, it’s too late” to join if she truly wanted to receive the full experience and benefit of the organization. Another impetus for starting the organization was Yin’s observation that every year, there are new health clubs on campus — “they’re kind of like startups.”
One of these “startup clubs” is the Yale Undergraduate Healthcare Enrollment Initiative, founded by Jason Yang ’17 and Akhil Upneja ’17. The organization, started in February of this year, was conceived after both founders took a course in health economics, taught by Howard Forman, professor of diagnostic radiology, economics and public health. They wanted to find a way to help people sign up for health insurance, especially in the wake of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s health budget cuts, Yang said. The club is attempting to attract pre-med students and students interested in health care access and economics, so the founders thought that the YMPO’s Health Activities Bazaar would be the “perfect place to recruit new students.” Yang reported that they received an equal amount of student interest from this bazaar compared to that they received at the main Extracurricular Bazaar.
Another one of the more recent health organizations is the Yale chapter of the Foundation for the International Medical Relief of Children, started by Jessie Li ’17 last fall. FIMRC raises funds to aid children in dire medical need abroad. Director of Outreach Dan McQuaid ’18 said that he was originally drawn to the organization because it provided opportunities for “making a global impact while still being involved locally.” McQuaid, a founding member of the organization, said that he hopes those same opportunities will draw new members. He added that FIMRC attended the bazaar with hopes to expand their member base.
According to attendees, because of the relatively small and open venue, the bazaar was not as densely packed as the Extracurricular Bazaar was this year. A few attendees remarked that it was nice that they could see all of the organizations as soon as they stepped into the room. The organizations each sent representatives, who stood in front of trifold poster boards advertising their groups. These displays flanked the perimeter of the room, allowing attendees to go from table to table in what Maheen Zakaria ’17, the director of communications and internal affairs for the Hypertension Awareness and Prevention Program at Yale, called a more “organized experience.”
Other attendees and organization members echoed this sentiment. Yale AIDS Support Coalition representative Kyle Ranieri ’18 remarked that he liked the more relaxed and organized feel of the bazaar.
“Sometimes [the main Extracurricular Bazaar] can feel like a huge competition, with so many organizations and so little time to learn about all of them,” Ranieri said. He continued, saying that many times, an organization’s location in Payne Whitney influences how many sign-ups they receive during the main bazaar. One of his organizations was located in the back of the gym this year, and, as a result, they didn’t see as much foot traffic. He added that because clubs were ordered randomly, prospective members might not get a chance to visit all organizations they would like.
And this is precisely the problem that Yin said she was trying to solve as she originated the idea for this health bazaar last spring, and started work on it this past May.
“The main Extracurricular Bazaar is dedicated to sharing the huge diversity of groups at Yale,” Yin concluded. “We wanted to have a place where, specifically, all of the health groups could gather and showcase the variety of health-related activities that Yalies are passionate about.”
Over 20 undergraduate-led health organizations were present at the event.