Now that I am back home and able to reflect on the past two months, I’m realizing how much I have learned and experienced throughout the course of my internship. In terms of giving me some direction professionally, my time with ICMHD was invaluable. It has allowed me to see what working in public health could entail, and how I may best contribute, especially in the earliest phases of what I’m hoping will become my career. More broadly, and perhaps even more importantly, it has renewed my determination to pick an occupation with which I will be able to do some “good.”
My internship has given me some insight into how this goal may be attained. One of my learning objectives was to understand, in greater detail, how NGOs and intergovernmental organizations can help in the pursuit of “development,” which I continue to associate with the alleviation of suffering, at least in part. My conversations at my internship, whether over lunch, or during a meeting or after a presentation, have exposed me to the complexity of doing so and the necessity of a combined effort on the part of citizens, governments, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and many other entities that have the potential to generate change. Sweeping measures do not seem to work when addressing the root of persistent development and public health issues. One of these issues, which I was able to learn more about through a presentation at my internship site, was the high rate of cesarean sections in many parts of the world. The reasons why so many women are opting for C-sections is not well understood, and likely vary from country to country, presenting a complicated and pressing issue to unravel. I would like to be part of the effort of answering these types of difficult questions in public health in the hope of better understanding that which influences our decisions regarding health.
With this idea in mind, I would like to continue to learn about research in public health, and contribute what I can when I return to New Orleans, and beyond. I would like to further investigate sources of inequality and how they influence health and well-being, a research topic I view as extremely relevant for study in New Orleans, a city suffering from great inequality with unique public health needs. I now feel I have more direction in my coursework as well as the work I plan to do outside the classroom to facilitate this.
My experiences in Geneva have also reinforced my determination to do as much abroad as possible. Seeing other parts of the world is incredibly rewarding and essential to understanding our increasingly globalizing and multicultural lives. Anyone interested in doing work that will have an impact on people outside of your own culture should seize opportunities to immerse oneself in life elsewhere. I’ve heard the importance of cultural literacy emphasized time and time again throughout my internship.
It is difficult to encompass the change I feel I have undergone and everything I have learned during my internship. I remain thankful to Newcomb College Institute and the Center for Engaged Learning and Teaching, for making this experience attainable. I believe that experiences such as these are at the heart of what life as a college student should be. I don’t know when else I will have the opportunity to so freely explore my interests. This summer will truly be a defining moment in my life.
I can’t wait to return to Tulane and apply what I’ve learned at ICMHD and living in Geneva to life in NOLA (which will be quite soon, as I’m back in early August for RA training).
Until next time, Geneva!