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The UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (HPDP) has bid farewell to Palma Chillón an international scholar who has participated in a cultural exchange for the past year.

After a year of work for HPDP, Palma Chillón is headed back to Granada, Spain to continue her work as an assistant professor at the University of Granada.

Chillón has worked at HPDP as an international scholar, primarily on the Parenting SOS and HomeSTEAD projects. She says she learned so many things while here.

“The environment is very peaceful here,” Chillón said. “It’s easy to find answers because most likely one of the people in the Center has worked in the specific thing you are looking for.”

Chillón’s tasks included mainly data collection and compiling research, but she was also exposed to community-based research.

“This is the first time I have been working in a community,” Chillón said. “I have learned how they manage and how they make relationships.”

Having Chillón work in the Center and be a part of the community was definitely a cultural exchange. Chillón brought her culture to the Center, while she experienced ours everyday.

From one-on-one conversations with people around the center to the flamenco class she taught during a fitness break, Chillón had the opportunity to share Spanish culture with many people.

Chillón added that there are many cultural differences between Chapel Hill and Granada. She said that people are more independent here; they work harder, and therefore their research is more effective.

“The main task in my university in Spain is teaching,” Chillón said. “You don’t have a center like this where there are people who can teach and do research.”

Other cultural differences she has noticed include: fewer people walking or riding bikes  to school, more cars, the larger size of neighborhoods and the 24-hour-a-day supermarkets.

“I can go shopping at 2 in the morning,” Chillón said. “I can’t do that in Spain.”

Chillón says she will miss so many aspects of HPDP and that her time here was invaluable.

“I now have to figure out how to pack one year in a 50 pound bag, but I will keep every experience and moment in my mind forever without a limited space restriction. I’m really grateful for to all the HPDP people who made me feel like I am at home and who let me learn with them, and especially to Dianne Ward and all her team.”

By Becky Bush
Communications Intern

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