Hello everyone! I hope that your summers are going well. You new-comers into SPH are probably getting excited/nervous about coming in (new pencils/pens/binders/first-day-of-school-outfit anyone?) Don’t be nervous! We (second-years) are excited to meet you!
Second-years are probably just finishing up some amazing experiences that we cannot wait to share with each-other, and have new challenges and experiences coming up– whether that is teaching a class at the University of Michigan, deciding on what direction you want to head after SPH, or simply clarifying the path you want to take while still at SPH.
But I am getting ahead of myself (a tendency I admit I do have!) My intention for this post was to talk a little bit about my Summer internship. I worked for an organization located in Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic. The organization worked in many capacities to serve children in various communities in the region. This is a smattering of what I learned this summer:
1) Be picky. (Originally). Get out what you want to get out of whatever experience you have. Decide your goals early on. If you want to work with international populations in Latin America, try to use your Spanish over the summer. For me, this was one of the most important choices I made.
2) That being said, also be open. For example– I ended up doing an in-depth report into cerebral palsy (causes, possible needs assessment questions, prevention) because there seemed to be a high proportion in the communities we visited. It is not necessarily what I expected to be doing, but it presented itself as an opportunity that was needed.
3) Take the good…with the not so good. Our organization was in the process of transitioning leadership, and I was asked to complete recommendations on each of the programs. This was an opportunity that my organization had to have some of their inefficiencies revealed. My public health courses definitely came into play as what I first thought of as ‘intuitive’ problems were actually things I had learned in my classes. Although seeing inefficiencies is difficult, being able to humbly discuss them in my recommendations allowed the new leadership to consider how things could improve. The new director was very happy to discuss our observations, and it was encouraging to hear her talk about how change would be implemented in the future.
4) Appreciate your co-workers. Taking the time to hear the stories of the people we worked with, talk to the leaders, and lean on each other was so valuable. We learned about cultural issues, the workings of our organization, the problems of the country as well as what people were proud of in their country by taking the time to listen and get to know our co-workers. Additionally, the other two girls from SPH and I definitely leaned on one another to get through waterless weeks, slow days, and learning a new language and place.
5) Apply your experiences to the future. I found that my nutrition course, HIV/AIDS in the Developing World, and Needs Assessment course were all very useful and practical. Therefore, in my future course of study, I definitely am planning on taking similar courses. Additionally, I found that structural issues, lack of safety for a woman in the city, and a needs assessment to determine what is actually needed are all critical factors in both an organization I would someday like to work for as well as a place I would like to live.
So– I hope this encourages you to take a look at your own experiences. For new students, I know any of us would be happy to answer any questions you may have about the internships or anything else in SPH. Feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions.
For second-years, I look forward to seeing you again. For new students, I truly look forward to meeting you! Welcome!