October 10, 2012 8:59 am

Meet the Interns: Pedro

Written by Administrator

Recent graduate of Iowa State Unviersity, Pedro Jose Gonzalez is our newest intern at MEDLIFE Ecuador in Riobamba. He's completed one out of the six months he'll be working with us, and so far he's helped build sanitation projects in rural communities, followed-up with patients and helped get things in order for future Mobile Clinics. Get to know more about the Puerto Rican native and what he's gained from his experience so far:

MeetPedroTell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Pedro but everyone calls me PJ. I'm 23 years old and I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Chemistry. I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moved to the states two years ago when I transferred from the University of Puerto Rico.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?

I started getting involved with MEDLIFE back at ISU. Last year, the  chapter president introduced me to it and asked me to join their cause -- I'm glad I did!

What was your first impression of Riobamba? 

I was surprised at how similar Riobamba is to Puerto Rico. It hasn't been difficult getting adjusted. One thing that shocked me was the poverty in the communities surrounding Riobamba. I was never exposed to such a thing. It's sad to see how some can't even manage to pay for a piece of bread that's less than 50 cents and how their health is deteriorating. People in these communities are not familiar with the health care system in Ecuador and suffer under the worst conditions. Even though it was a depressing scenario, I'm delighted by their humility and ability to keep a smile on their faces. They've taught me to value the small things in life.

What do you like most about being an intern? 

Everyday is different -- you never know what you will face. Also, I like that my job is not limited to one specific task or environment. I can work in the office or accompany a patient to the hospital or visit rural communities. Working at schools is really inspiring because the kids love to see you and interact with you. The MEDLIFE staff in Ecuador is simply AMAZING; there is no other word to describe them. They know how to work together as a team to get the best results and most important they make me feel at home.

Tell us an anecdote from your experience with MEDLIFE thus far:

Something that has stuck in my mind is the time I went to visit an old MEDLIFE patient named Darwin for an interview. When MEDLIFE was first established, he was their first patient to receive a life-saving heart surgery. It was fulfilling watching this kid have a normal life thanks to this organization; and he was so openly grateful. He even kept the teddy bear that Co-founder of MEDLIFE Juan Camilo Vanegas brought him five years ago. He carried the bear with him during the whole interview; he was so eager to show it to us and how much it meant to him. That's when I truly realized how important these types of organizations are in countries like Ecuador.

113-Pedro-and-Darwin

How do you think the internship will help you with your future plans / career?

I have always thought that in order to be a successful and compassionate doctor, one should have a better view of the world and understand not only the problems affecting their countries but also countries around the world. MEDLIFE has showed me the important things in life and how I can work to better society. Thanks to this organization, I consider myself a more wordly person with a better perspective of current health problems.

 

September 24, 2012 9:02 am

Meet the Interns: Biz

Written by Administrator

MeetBiz1

Elizabeth Shenk, AKA "Biz", came all the way from New Jersey to take on a year-long internship for MEDLIFE in Lima, Peru. Now she's back in the United States for the next month touring the Mid-Atlantic region for our One Billion+ Campaign Tour. Find out what motivates her to work day in and day out for our cause:

Where are you from?

I am from Chatham, New Jersey and I studied Psychology and Latin American & Latino studies at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?

I actually had no experience with MEDLIFE prior to the internship because Holy Cross does not currently have a chapter. I came across a posting for the year-long internship as I was searching for opportunities to work hands-on in Latin America, and after looking through the website and reading some of the incredible patient stories, I applied.

Why did you decide to become an intern?

After graduation, I wanted to jump right into working in an exciting field that would allow me to coordinate directly with community members and gain cultural insight into the problems they face. For me, it was an opportunity to investigate how certain regions of Peru have become impoverished and how the social, political and physical aspects deter these populations from thriving.

What was your first impression of Peru? / What has surprised you about Peru?

My first impression of Peru was back when I studied abroad in Lima my junior year of college. I was astounded by the diversity among the regions and the kindness of the people, who have made living in a foreign country much easier than I expected.

What do you look forward to most this year? 

I am looking forward to developing lasting relationships with patients and community members as we follow-up with them throughout the year. I was fortunate enough to accompany Carlos Benavides to a community meeting in Pamplona Alta in the outskirts of Lima, during which members from various parts of the area met to discuss current issues and upcoming projects. Listening to their discussions and hearing how much they appreciate MEDLIFE's work, I am especially looking forward to assisting with the implementation of these projects and being a part of the gradual growth of these communities.   

Tell us an anecdote from your experience with MEDLIFE thus far: 

We recently returned from a Mobile Clinic in Cusco, which began less than a week after my arrival to Lima. I was immediately thrown into everything and loved learning on the fly. At the end of one of the clinics, I asked the MEDLIFE doctor if he could look at my infected thumbnail that I had slammed in a car door a month earlier. He told me that the new nail was not growing in properly and that the old nail had to be ripped off. So there I sat as he removed it, tearing up and clutching a wad of tissues. Then I realized- I was in a small schoolhouse in the middle of the Andes, where members of the community had come to seek treatment for serious infections, parasites or other illnesses, because many of them had never received formal medical treatment before. How could I complain? Experiences like this have put things in perspective for me, as I have come to recognize the quality medical attention I have always received at home in the United States.

September 7, 2012 4:49 pm

Meet the Interns: Sean

Written by Administrator

Sean White came to intern with us at MEDLIFE Peru fresh out of MIchigan State University as a result of his unforgettable experience serving as part of a Mobile Clinic in Lima last year. Here's what he told us about his motivation to help out with our mission:

MeetSean

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?
I became involved with MEDLIFE over two years ago. I enjoyed my courses at Michigan State about contemporary issues in the global political economy which covered topics including: the critical shortage in health care worldwide; social forces and competing ideologies in a world context; global resource distribution; international development strategies; and first and third world dichotomies. I saw on Facebook that an old friend was involved with MEDLIFE and began researching the organization to find out more about it. MEDLIFE's commitment to listening to the poor, providing culturally sensitive care, attacking the root cause of disease and suffering, and finding sustainable development solutions was different than most other aid organizations, and meshed perfectly with the theoretical knowledge that I had just gained in the classroom. That winter, I attended a Mobile Clinic in Lima, Peru and when I returned, started the Michigan State University MEDLIFE Chapter.

Where are you from?

I was born in Flint, Michigan and grew up in Flint and Grand Blanc, Michigan. I studied business management at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan and graduated in May 2012.

Tell us an anecdote from your experience with MEDLIFE thus far:

A few nights ago, I had the chance to go to a community meeting in Union Santa Fé in Pamplona with Carlos, our Director of Peru. The meeting lasted over two hours and it was both heart-warming and inspiring to see firsthand how the community organizes with Carlos to raise health, hygiene, and living standards, and how grateful they are for MEDLIFE's presence in their community. The next day, Carlos told me that the community continued their meeting for another two hours, staying until 1:00 A.M., sorting out which members of the community would be responsible for working on each of the projects and on which days.

What was your first impression of Peru? What has surprised you about Peru?

My first impression of Peru was just simply how different it is from Michigan. When friends and family at home ask me, "What is Peru like?" I tell them to imagine Michigan, but the exact opposite.

For me, the people of Peru are the best part. Everyone I have met here has been so kind, welcoming, and genuine. This holds especially true in the communities in which we work. The people there form amazing communities that they take great pride in claiming as their own, and rightly so because they've put considerable effort into building and maintaining these communities. It is refreshing to see the pride Peruvians have in their community and fellow man.

Why did you decide to become an intern?

I decided to become an intern with MEDLIFE because the internship provides a unique blend of a number of my interests regarding health care education and awareness, community development through infrastructure projects that advance health and hygiene, and economic progress. Each day is fast-paced, interesting, and different. I'm constantly learning while also having the opportunity to experience another culture.

What do you look forward to most this year?

What I am looking forward to most this year is joining Nick, Carlos, Meri, and the rest of the staff in the field and being able to experience MEDLIFE's patient follow-up care, as well as the preparation and designation of community development projects. Also, being a part of all the hard work and effort that goes into these year-round projects. Prior to becoming an intern, I went on two MEDLIFE Mobile Clinics, which are very well organized and carefully orchestrated, so most students (myself included) don't see or realize how much hard work and effort goes into making sure the clinics go smoothly or how many other things MEDLIFE is doing simultaneously and throughout the year.

 

September 4, 2012 9:05 am

Meet the Interns: Rachel

Written by Administrator

Recent UVA graduate, Rachel Goldberg, is our newest intern here at the Lima offices of MEDLIFE Peru. Read about what motivated her to join the team and what drew her to Peru: 

Why did you decide to become an intern? Rachel blog1

I spent last summer studying in Lima and loved it, so this was the perfect chance for me to come back and see my old friends and explore more of Peru. I also studied media studies and was hoping to get a job in film or television production, so this internship is a great way for me to use those skills for a good cause. I just started, but so far MEDLIFE seems like a great place to work, because everyone is so passionate about what they do.

Where are you from?

I'm from Silver Spring, Maryland, and I studied media studies and Spanish at the University of Virginia.

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?

I saw the job posting for a communications intern and emailed MEDLIFE to say I was interested, and now a few months later I'm here in Lima starting my year-long internship!

What was your first impression of Peru?

When I was here a year ago, I lived in a very different part of Lima, so when I got here everything was strangely familiar but new and different at the same time. I have been really surprised by how huge Lima is and the contrast between different regions of Peru. Trying to find my way around Lima can be pretty overwhelming, but I've been lucky to find that Peruvians are really friendly and welcoming, and happy to help out.

Tell us an anecdote from your experience in Peru thus far:

Last year when I was here for just less than three months, I stayed with a Peruvian host family, which was a great way to experience Lima. I got to know my host mom, Estrella, as well as her children and grandchildren, and they always treated me like family. I stayed in touch with them even after I left, though I didn't know if I would ever see them again. Now that I'm back in Lima, I'm living in an apartment with other MEDLIFE interns, but I went to see my "familia peruana" soon after I arrived, and they welcomed me back as if I never left. I spent the day eating delicious homemade Peruvian food and playing with the kids. It's nice to know that I'll always have a second home and family here in Lima even though I'm so far from home.

What do you look forward to most this year?

I'm really looking forward to going out in the field and meeting the people who benefit from MEDLIFE's work and sharing their stories. I'm also excited to get to know everyone here in the office, and explore more of Lima and the rest of Peru.

August 16, 2012 4:53 pm

Meet the Interns: Mauricio

Written by Administrator

Florida State graduate, Mauricio Parra-Ferro, is currently interning in Lima for his summer break.  Find out more about him in his interview below:

How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?

After returning home from my first mission trip in Haiti with a different organization and realizing the huge impact it had on me, I began to develop a great interest in global health and volunteering abroad. Fortunately, I received an e-mail from my advisor explaining MEDLIFE's interest in starting a chapter at FSU. After doing a bit of research, I discovered the organization's focus on Latin American countries. Being a native Spanish speaker, I felt this was an important aspect since the language barrier I experienced with the Haitians in my previous trip slightly prevented me from fully connecting with them. With serious dedication and the support of a few other students, we started the Florida State MEDLIFE chapter in August, 2011. While our organization is still relatively new, we have made a name for ourselves by sending over 25 students, myself included, to Ecuador. We are also bringing 10 more students to our second clinic here in Lima this August.

Where are you from? MEETmauricio

I was originally born in Florida but immediately moved to Bogotá, Colombia. I lived there up until I was nine when my family moved back to the United States due to political and social reasons. I lived in south Florida for a while but eventually moved to Tallahassee where I ended up going to Florida State University.

Why did you decide to become an intern? What do you like about being an intern?

I decided to become a MEDLIFE intern specifically so that I could have both a greater understanding of and a larger impact on how the organization operates. Serving as president of the Florida State chapter was a great opportunity since it allowed me to develop leadership skills as well as to grow my newfound interest in social service into a full-scale initiative. Additionally, it has served as a perfect stepping stone to get even more involved with the organization in hopes of being chosen for the position I have today.

As an intern, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of the MEDLIFE staff, giving valuable input towards the current expansion projects, and getting the chance to constantly travel to the fast-growing community of Pamplona. I have been most appreciative, however, for the opportunity to really live and work in another country, as opposed to feeling like I am only visiting.

What was your first impression of Lima? What has surprised you about Lima?

Coming in only 10 days before Peru's Independence Day weekend, Fiestas Patrias, it has been almost impossible not to notice how proud the Peruvians are of their country. With flags literally on every corner and constant parades on the street, I have found Peru to be full of patriotic and fun-spirited people. One of my biggest challenges living here has been to get a solid grasp on how the bus system works. Having never really used public transportation in the past, this wasn't made any easier with the abundance of different color-coded buses zooming up and down the streets. However, I have found that simply asking around for help has always led to kind and beneficial responses.

Tell us an anecdote from your experience with MEDLIFE thus far:

While I have had a few eye opening experiences out in Pamplona, there is one light-hearted situation that I am constantly reminded of that occurred right outside of our apartment. After being given time to get settled in and acquainted on with the city on my first day on the job, I was excited to go on my first Peruvian adventure. Grocery shopping! It was no Machu Picchu, but I was hungry and still in need of a few things. After completely misinterpreting directions given to me, and going 30 minutes in the opposite direction, I eventually found the market and got my things. I generally have a good sense of direction after reaching my destination, so I felt relatively confident on how to get back to the apartment. Since I had arrived late the previous night, however, I never got a good look at our apartment from the outside. All I knew was the apt. number, and that it had three different floors, our offices being on the third floor. But, as I walked up and down the street I noticed that 232 was nowhere to be found. Instead, the closest one was 233 with 240 right across. After convincing myself that top floor of 240 just HAD to be the right spot, I proceeded to try and get in the outside door. I used all of the different keys given to me at least four times each, and of course, none worked. With an old lady staring me down from her window across the street, I began to feel the pressure. Finally, a very disgruntled looking lady came up to me to ask what I was doing outside of her home. Assuming she was part of the MEDLIFE staff I hadn't met yet, I assured her that I wasn't a stranger, and I was in fact the new intern that moved in last night. After giving me the most confused look ever and telling me she had no idea what I was talking about, the lady quickly closed and locked the door in front of me. It was then that I realized that I was on the wrong street! I used to be shamefully reminded of this every time I walked down Calle de las Galaxias, but now I just laugh it off.

What do you look forward to most this summer?

In essence, I am really looking forward to taking in as many experiences as I can, both good and even bad (assuming I can learn something valuable out of them!). Basically anything that will help broaden my horizon on things that I may not be too comfortable with or aware of. I am looking forward to embracing the vast diversity of Peru and becoming more culturally competent, which I am sure will be achieved naturally through the constant patient encounters, workshops, and developmental projects in the local communities. Lastly, I am looking forward to bringing back these experiences to FSU in efforts to help our club expand into an even more promising chapter.

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