The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday July 7th

Q and A with Jean Chalachala

Jean Lambert Chalachala is a UNC alum, and graduated from Gillings School of Global Public Health and has been working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Writer Lauren Talley talked with him about his work in the DRC and his education here at UNC.   

The Daily Tar Heel: How did you get involved with working in the Congo?   

Jean Lambert Chalachala: I’ve been working with this UNC Project for about nine years now. Three years ago, I got the opportunity to go back to the US to do my Master’s studies. I was sponsored by the rotary program. Since I was in contact with several professors from UNC they hired me to lead some UNC projects here in DRC. I am involved in two particular projects. One of them is Linkages, an HIV prevention project. The second one is FP CAPE within Carolina's Populations Center in which we are focusing on family planning activities.    

DTH: How did UNC prepare you for your future work and career in the Congo?   

JLC: What I can say about that is that just studying at UNC and following UNC’s Master’s program is really a field focused learning. You know how to deal with several situations that you find in the field. Also, we are working on funded project and funded projects are limited in time but you still get networking and particular relationships with other researchers. Also, working on these projects give me the opportunities to continue to build my network here in DRC because you are involved in high level meetings, involved in relationships with government members, so it gives you the time to build your own network.    

DTH: What has been your proudest accomplishment in your career so far?

Studying at UNC and getting my Master’s at UNC opened several doors here. American diplomas in general and then UNC’s degree in public health are about the top in the world. Having this graduation is creating more respect from partners and also builds trust and confidence.    

DTH: This past week, how did it feel to be back in Chapel Hill?   

JLC: I got the opportunity to be back just for the week, it was very short, but I enjoyed it. It was for the FP CAPE project. We needed to discuss within the team about some evaluation tools that we are putting in place for a series of activities here in the field, so that’s why I was blessed to come and get the chance to discuss with my colleagues who are based here.    

DTH: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your work or coming back to Chapel Hill?   

JLC: I do not know how to explain it clearly, but when I am in Chapel Hill now, I’m feeling as if it is my second home. I really, really appreciate the time I spent in Chapel Hill. Those two years studying, at the beginning I was feeling that it was hard, but now I am pretty sure that was one of the best moments of my life studying there. Definitely, I think Chapel Hill will stay in my heart.   

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