MPH student Mahendra Naidoo talks to an elementary student

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Brains, bats, asthma, the future—everything’s on the table at kids’ fair

By Salma Warshanna-Sparklin • Photo by Chris Hartlove

Kids poked a preserved human brain and wondered at an Islamic hijab. Bloomberg School students led these and other rare encounters during the Career & Culture Fair at Elmer A. Henderson: A Johns Hopkins Partnership School. 

About 50 MPH students—including an Air Force doctor, law student and Peace Corps alum—volunteered on November 21 to describe their careers and diverse backgrounds to the excited schoolchildren. 

“We wanted to show the kids the world outside East Baltimore,” said Mahendra Naidoo, MD, an MPH student who was itching for community service and proposed the fair.

Waves of 1st to 7th graders—nearly 400 in all—poured into the auditorium to find sponge cutouts of Chinese letters, Nigerian dress and a tablet displaying Latin America on Google Earth.

Among the cacophonous curiosity, only the beat of a cow-skin drum from the African culture table rose over earnest questions about Ebola, asthma, bats and brains (“Why isn’t it soft and squishy?”). Kids learned to brush twice a day from the dentist, and nurses showed them how to feed a baby manikin. 

Stacks of thank you letters revealing sparked ambitions reinforced Naidoo’s maxim—“Never underestimate the power of inspiration.”