I’ve been putting off writing this blog post because it means that my internship and my time in Rwanda with Engineering World Health are really over. I sit now in a bustling sandwich shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire—it couldn’t be more different from the market in Butare, Rwanda. These are my reflections on this summer: what I’m most proud of, what I’ve learned, and how it has changed me.
Things I am proud of:
- The relationships that I made. This summer I met some truly incredible people from Rwanda and all over the world. I learned quickly that, in the developing world, working effectively is all about establishing close relationships with people at all levels of authority. The friendships and connections that I made in Rwanda have changed me for life.
- Medical equipment I repaired. Over the past month, my hospital partner and I repaired 17 pieces of medical equipment in three hospitals in the southern province of Rwanda. This equipment ranged from infant incubators to oxygen concentrators to ultrasound machines. Most of the equipment was put to immediate use by very grateful nurses. As a student and an intern, to be able to leave behind something so concrete was quite powerful.
- Fundraising. Along with a group of local volunteers, we are working to raise money to buy livestock for the hospital farm in order to provide vulnerable patients with meaningful and sustainable sources of protein.
To read more about this project, to share with your friends, or to donate, please visit:
What I have learned:
Travel. Extend your comfort zone. Start a conversation with someone with whom you may not share a common language. Talk to doctors and CEOs and janitors and taxi drivers. Understand your strengths and put yourself in a position to succeed. Be assertive, tactfully.
This experience has solidified my resolve to work in the international engineering industry with a focus on developing nations. When I return to Tulane for my senior year, I hope to find and internship with a company in New Orleans that is focused on international, developing markets. I cannot wait to return to Rwanda and to other developing nations to learn more about their specific needs and hopefully be a part of a solution.