Castelline_Tilus

The following interview is part of a series of conversations with young change-makers across the Western Hemisphere. From women’s rights to education to good governance, these leaders, founders, and creators are advocating for social good in a variety of ways across multiple platforms.


In this Q&A, Castelline Tilus, the co-founder and CEO of Ayiti Analyticsdiscusses how she fell in love with data science and went on to found Haiti’s first data science lab. Ayiti Analytics is focused on addressing challenges in Haiti through data science education, consulting and research. It leverages the potential of data science and analytics to connect youth in Haiti with meaningful employment opportunities and to co-create solutions to community identified challenges.


The following interview is part of a series of conversations with young change-makers across the Western Hemisphere. From women’s rights to education to good governance, these leaders, founders, and creators are advocating for social good in a variety of ways across multiple platforms. 


In this Q&A, Olivia Lovell, the founder of Women of Destiny, an organization that provides mentorship and trainings to women who have been victims of abuse, explains how she overcame adversity and found her purpose and how she helps young women in Jamaica do the same. This interview has been edited lightly for clarity.


We recently sat down with Nestor “the Boss” Gomez, host of the storytelling podcast 80 Minutes Around the World and 40-time winner of the Moth Grand Slam

Nestor, who used to stutter, hails from Guatemala and found his voice after migrating to Chicago, enrolling in high school, and learning to navigate a new culture. Currently, he uses his platform to encourage others to tell their stories. 

“Every place, person and thing inspires a different story or poem,” he says.

This Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity. 

The Journey North

My childhood was a very hard childhood. I was the second of four siblings. Actually, I’m the second of six. Two of my siblings died when they were very young. We were poor and my family made Guatemalan worry dolls [small cloth figures dressed in traditional Mayan clothing] that we sold at the airport and tourist shops. 

William ArrochaDr. William Arrocha, Assistant Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, recently shared his expertise and thoughts on compassionate migration, DACA, the upcoming presidential elections in Mexico, and what truly makes us human with Open Americas.

Can you describe your background? How did you become interested in the field of international policy and more specifically in U.S./Mexico relations, migration, and human rights?

I am an eternal migrant, born from immigrant parents in Mexico City, a place where many worlds have met, clashed and thrived for centuries. As someone born within an international and multicultural family, my reason for being will always involve more than one country or place. As the Argentina poet Facundo Cabral once said, “I’m not from here… I’m not from there.”

Being born in Mexico to an American mother and a Mexican father always placed me in the confines of U.S.-Mexico relations. Being raised in a family with parents engaged in the realms of the law, social justice, and human rights, studying in the French system during all my formative years and at my bachelors at the National Autonomous University of Mexico could not have taken me to any other path than that of an internationalist.

By Christina La Fleur

Despite the progress the UIC-Cuban Ministry of Health collaboration has made for patients and diplomacy, the path ahead for US-Cuban healthcare partnerships is far from sure. Political and policy changes have already begun, and they have the potential to completely reshape US-Cuban relations.

Firstly, political power has changed hands in the United States. The Chicago programs’ main political supporters at the federal level were Democrats, who do not currently hold the majority in Congress.  The Chicago program was built off the foreign policy of the previous Democratic president, and has already been walked back by the current Republican one, who seems inclined to further distance the United States from its island neighbor. In fact, the Cubans’ first Chicago visit was expedited, according to Dr. Jose Armando Arronte Villamarin, so it could be completed prior to January 20th, 2017 – Donald Trump’s inauguration day. 

By Christina La Fleur

In 2016 and 2017, University of Illinois Cancer Center doctors and a team of Cuban Ministry of Health representatives observed healthcare practices in each other’s countries with the hope of addressing maternal and child healthcare in underserved Chicago communities.  

Dr. Robert Winn of Chicago had been looking for a solution to solve community health problems with few resources. In Cuba he saw the scarcity, but he also saw low infant mortality and high community trust, which was accomplished through the Cuban home visit system. 

In Cuba, primary care physicians “try to solve the problems of the community because they live in the community,” says Dr. Jose Armando Arronte Villamarin, a Cuban primary health professional. Cuba’s healthcare system has a  pyramid focus, from the individual to the family to the community, that starts with a visit to patients’ homes.  According to Dr. Armando, during the visit individuals are put into one of four groups – healthy, at risk, sick, or living with a disability – and are seen in the local office for care. A community-level health assessment is made every year.

By Christina La Fleur

Cuban doctors have been deployed all over the world to heal and to strengthen bilateral relations. In 2017, they came to Chicago to address extreme disparity and an urgent community need.

The University of Illinois Chicago-Cuban Ministry of Health collaboration is a first: American doctors invited Cuban medical professionals into American communities to help improve maternal and child health outcomes in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. This collaboration is a milestone in cooperative US-Cuban relations, and in Cuba’s medical diplomacy. 

Dr. Jose Armando Arronte Villamarin and two other Cuban health professionals came to Chicago in January of 2017 to visit University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System (UI Health) clinics and discuss the potential of applying a Cuban-style home visit system, where doctors have the chance to observe patients, and their conditions, in their own home. During their next visit to Chicago, the doctors began the at-home interviews to assess the patients and determine their health needs at the individual and, cumulatively, community levels.