Hi again everyone,
As you can probably tell from the giving title, this is my last post. The post where I attempt to encompass all of the incredible experiences I have had while here in a few paragraphs.
Did you get what you expected from this internship?
No. I got more. I came primarily to learn how hospitals function and operate day-to-day here in Tanzania. Not only have I learned this, but I have also learned essential skills for researching within a hospital. I have gained skills in the fields of data entry and subsequent analysis, I have learned the general logistics of the Tanzanian medical field, and I have even learned about anatomy and many surgical procedures from surgery-observation.
I made friends with physicians and nurses from all around the world — not just Tanzanians. People volunteering from Romania, Japan, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, and even some medical students from U.S. schools like University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and Vanderbilt! The most valuable learning experience for me, though, was to understand the local Tanzanian perspective on medicine, and the improvements that they envision, etc.
I signed up for this experience not knowing what to expect. All I knew was that I was going to be working in the department of Anesthesia at KCMC for over 6 weeks. I knew that I would be in Tanzania for a total of over 11 weeks. What I did not know is that I would fall in love with this country and the culture of the people who live here. Within the first 3 weeks of staying here, I spoke with my professor and adjusted next semester’s schedule to accommodate a 5th semester Swahili language course. I originally intended to finish my language requirement with 4 semesters and call it quits, but how could I not continue to learn the language and culture of my new friends, when I am confident I will return to work and visit in the future.
I also have had fun. Going on safaris, hiking by a lake bordering Kenya and Tanzania, swimming in hot springs, learning to make coffee, watching all of the world cup games with locals, the list goes on. I have accomplished a great deal with my research and volunteering here, but I have also made time to relax and have fun.
Now, I leave Tanzania 🙁 This has been the experience of a lifetime, and I do not want to leave. Though I have been here for about 3 months, I feel that I have made a home here. I will leave in less than a week from now, but I will remain in touch with all of my colleagues and friends after leaving.
As for my career path, which I talked about briefly in the first blog-post, I am more confident in what I intend to pursue. I am interested in going to medical school, and most-likely doing research in some way (maybe a master’s degree in public health, or maybe a PhD in a field of neuroscience) — whatever it may be, I know that research is a passion of mine that I would miss if I did not translate it into my future medical career. Being a rising Junior, I am grateful to have had this opportunity. I recognize that I am only 20 years old, and that I still have some time before making any serious decisions on how I choose to integrate my interests into a career. However, I find I have a strong passion for Tanzania, medicine, and research, and I want nothing more than to find a way to incorporate each field into a career for my future.
Sharing my experiences with you has been interesting. Some weeks I felt redundant, but all weeks I felt myself growing in my understanding of this culture. As I leave you with this last blog post, I want to make clear a very common misunderstanding: most of the people I know have very little knowledge about Tanzania, and Africa as a continent for that matter. An issue arises when countries (and the continent) are generalized into an opinion formed solely from social media or other news sources. To anyone who may be reading this, I urge you to consider your perspective on Africa: is it holistic? Have you read multiple articles or books to form it? Have you tried talking with someone from Africa? If not, I believe it would be beneficial to consider multiple perspectives from a variety of sources to develop a stronger opinion.
Thank you LSA Opportunity Hub for giving me an opportunity to share what I have learned!