October 10, 2016 8:19 am

Intern Journal: Shayna Hamburg

Written by Shayna Hamburg

I was climbing down a steep hill-side of slippery rocks when I paused to catch my breath. It was my first week in Lima, and I was participating in our Reality Tour. Carlos, the Director of MED Programs Peru, was leading us through the communities on the outskirts of Lima to help us better understand the challenges they face everyday. “Ya, chicos, bajamos,” Carlos tells us to hurry down as we're supposed to meet with the community members from Wilbert Basurto. Fearful I might fall, I crouched down and placed both hands on the rocks beside me for support as I lowered myself down.

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          Once I planted both feet on solid ground, I looked back at the precarious path I had just descended. There were two young children scrambling down the rocks, followed by a woman wearing flip-flops and carrying her baby in a poncho on her back. Shortly after, another woman approximately 7 months pregnant, Herlita, slowly made her way down to greet us. I couldn't believe my eyes. Here I was properly equipped with good health, youth and sturdy hiking boots, yet struggling to safely reach the bottom. How were these individuals supposed to do the same without stable shoes? What would they do if it were raining or dark out? It was that moment I realized the gravity of the situation. They need a safe passageway; specifically, a staircase.

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          Less than two months later, I found myself sitting in that same location next to Herlita, except this time she was holding a happy, healthy baby, just 20 days old. We shared traditional foods, cachanga and cebada, from the region Huancavelica, where most of the community members had migrated from. As we enjoyed this meal, the community members of Wilbert Basurto discussed their plans with Carlos to begin the process of building their first staircase. The community was ready and inspired. They had just witnessed the inauguration of two new staircases in a nearby community Laderas de Nueva Esperanza, a location where we have been working for five years and have completed 11 staircases. The community members of Wilbert Basurto were able to see the success of their neighbors' efforts first-hand, turning a seemingly unattainable idea into a more tangible goal.  

          Wilbert Basurto is a much smaller community. They only have 21 families in comparison to the 93 families that make up Laderas de Nueva Esperanza, but Carlos assured the community members that it can be done. He emphasized the importance of commitment to the project and suggested that they ask to rent the wooden molds for their staircases from Laderas de Nueva Esperanza. As the community members came to an agreement with Carlos, I turned to Herlita by my side and smiled. She, her baby, and countless neighbors would soon have a staircase, providing safe access to and from their home.  

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          It was that moment that I realized the true magnitude of MEDLIFE's impact. We have built staircases, individual relationships and collaborative partnerships. We have empowered communities to organize and create positive change for themselves, but what I find to be the most meaningful is how communities have started to collaborate and learn from each other. To me, this is the truest essence of empowerment, and this is how the MEDLIFE mission will continue to grow. 

September 26, 2016 1:21 pm

Intern Journal: David Jetha

Written by David Jetha

          En route to Nueva Esperanza this foggy morning, I'm filled with a feeling of anticipation: I get to see Soledad and her son today. Looking out the bus window on our morning commute, I watch people heading off to work. I see children with brightly colored backpacks skipping on the sidewalks with small lunch boxes waving in the air with every swing of their arms. I see street vendors cooking an assortment of quail egg dishes and various styles of chicken sandwiches.  Although I only get the most infinitesimal glimpse into all of their lives, I feel like I'm a part of it.

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          When we visit communities and speak with the people, the word I hear the most is ‘apoyar,' which means to support. This morning, I spent time thinking about what that means. Apoyar is an action where anyone can participate. In Spanish, this is its infinitive form, allowing it to be conjugated to reflect who is conducting it. The word is both flexible and inclusive. After spending a moment impressed by how much Spanish I actually do remember from high school, I think about all the support MEDLIFE has brought to our patient, Soledad. A woman that has experienced so much adversity still manages to smile when we arrived the last time our group came to visit. Several nights before, Carlos brought us to see Soledad's home. I remember being overwhelmed with sadness seeing how she lived  with her son in this home constructed of plywood and I wondered how this building was still even standing. Carlos then told our group that MEDLIFE had agreed to build her a new home and the following month, we were to build it. Oh boy.

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          At first, I was scared. I wasn't sure if I would be able to lift concrete, or throw these unassumingly heavy bricks several meters in the air, let alone catch one being hurled right at me. In those early mornings, Carlos believed in us and said ‘!Eres fuerte!' along with Janet shouting in the background ‘!Sí, se puede!' Halfway through, I was so exhausted. I felt like my body had been pushed to its limit and there would be no way I could continue. During our water break, a young boy sat next to me and asked what my name was. I found out he was Soledad's son, José. We spoke about everything. Minutes felt like hours as we shared our lives and the things we had seen, the Spanish phrases we both knew, even the jokes we thought were funny. For a brief moment, I forgot all the physical pain I had felt earlier and was captivated by our conversation. On that day, I gained a new friend.

          When our bus reached its final stop, we disembarked and continued to walk up to Soledad's house. I was anxious because it had been a few weeks since I'd seen Soledad and Jose and I was eager to continue the conversations we had last time.

          I knew that I'd learn a lot on this internship, but it's impossible to describe in words the compassion and empathy felt when working on projects or conducting follow-up patient visits. At some point, you realize that everyone is a person trying to do the best they can with the resources they have, to make a better future for themselves and their family. I feel that being a MEDLIFE intern has given me the opportunity to work alongside others and learn how to truly serve, so I can be a better source of apoyo (support) for my friends and loved ones back home.

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          Finally, we reached the base of the staircase to Soledad's project site. Bricks lay at the base of where her new, two-story home will be built in the coming weeks. I'm incredibly happy seeing how much progress has been made and am eager to continue working on it. I look over my shoulder and I see Soledad and Jose with smiles on their face as if they were seeing old friends again. At this moment, I think: somos vecinos.

September 2, 2016 8:19 am

Intern Journal: Alison Bradley

Written by Alison Bradley

Two years ago I volunteered at a MEDLIFE mobile clinic, hauling cement with sixty other University of Michigan students, to help build a staircase in the community of 22 de Junio. I never imagined I would be standing on those stairs again, but this time as a MEDprograms intern.

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After my experience working with MEDLIFE in 2014, I knew that I wanted to improve my Spanish and continue learning more about health disparities in medically underserved communities. I went back to school and declared as a Spanish major immediately. When I was getting ready to graduate, I was looking for more opportunities to continue to educate myself—to learn more about the world around me, and what I could do to serve others. Once again, MEDLIFE seemed like the perfect fit for me.

However, leaving the country for a week and leaving for a year are two very different experiences. I had been on a mobile clinic, and I had thoroughly researched the values of MEDLIFE, but you don't really know what you're getting into until you're here. We spent our entire first week training (with Nick Ellis himself!): learning about MEDLIFE's goals, how it is different from medical missions, and what factors contribute to Lima's health and development disparities. It was such an amazing experience to be surrounded by people passionate about educating themselves on these issues and working to eliminate them.

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The next step was to put it all into practice. I was able to spend an entire week in the field with the nurses and Carlos, our director for MEDprograms Peru. I visited communities and got to speak to them about addressing their needs, whether it was water projects, educational workshops, or staircases. I was able to sit down with patients and understand how our processes work to remove the barriers that separate them from accessing quality health care. I even rode in a mototaxi, which was honestly a little terrifying, but I did live to tell the tale.

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The first couple weeks in Lima have been a whirlwind, but I keep finding myself thinking about returning to those stairs in 22 de Junio. After two years, I am so thankful for this opportunity to be back in Lima to continue learning about and serving these communities. 

August 31, 2016 11:01 am

Meet the Year-long Interns 2016-2017 2

Written by Rosali Vela

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Name: David Jetha 
Hometown: Orlando, FL
School: University of Central Florida/ University of Florida 
Major: Biology B.S. and Anthropology B.A. 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: Initially, a friend invited me to attend one of our university's chapter meetings. After refusing to go multiple times, I finally attended one and I'm so glad that I did. I fell in love with everyone's passion to help others and soon started working for our chapter's founding Executive Board. The following year, I served as the UCF chapter president and on the Student Advisory Board (SAB). In total, I've participated on 3 mobile clinics through MEDLIFE in Lima, Riobamba, and Managua.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I'm a very curious person because I love learning about other cultures and the challenges that people experience. My ideal Saturday is reading a book or enjoying an in-depth conversation at a coffee shop. I also really enjoy traveling; I've been to over half of the U.S. states and am hoping to visit the remaining ones within the next few years. Finally, I'm a big fan of strategic games and am an avid Magic: the Gathering player.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: MEDLIFE's internship program offers a unique lens into the lives of people living in extreme poverty by examining their needs, challenges, and testimonials of daily life. MEDLIFE also works towards identifying root causes of these conditions to build sustainable programs and care that helps people build better lives and futures. I wanted to be a part of this MEDLIFE movement and work to make a difference in others' lives.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima is colder than I remember it, but the city is vast with an immensely rich culture. The people are very kind and are extremely accommodating when I forget how to say phrases in Spanish. Even though Lima's streets are always active and full of life, I've felt at home here and I'm looking forward to exploring more of the city.

What are your goals for this internship?: Personally, I'm hoping to build communication skills and stronger patient rapport. I'm also hoping to gain greater understanding of challenge and inequality in developing communities. For MEDLIFE, I hope to contribute my talents to helping the organization expand and reach more communities and volunteers.


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Name: Joe Comer 
Hometown: Duluth, GA
School: University of Georgia (UGA)
Major: Biology and Psychology  

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: My friends invited me to a MEDLIFE chapter meeting at my school in my Freshman year. At the time, I had class, but decided to check it out one week when class had been cancelled. I quickly realized just how much MEDLIFE's approach to global health and service lined up with my own. I started going to meetings where I learned more about Global Health disparities and issues.  I then began volunteering at MEDLIFE service events around my university. As I got more involved with my Chapter, I began to get more involved with MEDLIFE as a whole.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I'm a recent college graduate experiencing the world outside of school for the first time. It's a unique transition to make while also transitioning to living in a new country and culture. Like almost every other early-20s aged person, I love watching movies, reading books, playing games, and going for hikes.  Peru is a beautiful country, so I'm looking forward to exploring this beautiful place.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I believed that being a MEDLIFE intern provided a wonderful opportunity to serve others before devoting my time to a permanent career or graduate school. This is an organization that greatly influenced my college career and future goals, and I want to ensure that MEDLIFE as an organization can continue to not only serve the people of the regions it works in, but also provide college students around the world the same, influential opportunities it provided me.

What was your first impression of Lima?: I first came to Lima on a Mobile Clinic my Junior year of college.  My first impression was that the city was bigger than I had expected it to be.  Everywhere we went was a long drive away, and Peruvian traffic can be quite hectic.  I quickly saw just how much character and culture there was squeezed into every square foot of this city, from the unique architecture to the incredible people. It's a city that should be experienced and not just seen.

What are your goals for this internship?: I may have completed my undergraduate career, but I am still deciding what career path is the best fit for me. While I'm figuring that out, I hope to expand on my knowledge of Global Health systems and disparities. And lastly, I hope to improve on my, admittedly, lackluster Spanish language skills.


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Name: Sevan Misirliyan 
Hometown: Novi, Michigan 
School: University of Michigan 
Major: Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: In my junior year of college, one of my good friends told me that she was planning to attend a MEDLIFE mobile clinic over spring break. After looking into MEDLIFE, I was both intrigued and drawn into its mission and decided to sign up for the trip as well. That week ended up having a much larger impact on me than I could have imagined, and I am excited to be back for the upcoming year.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a 2015 graduate of the University of Michigan. Any close friend of mine would tell you that I'm just a tad bit obsessed with Michigan football.  Outside of that, I love traveling and experiencing different cultures. When I'm home, you'll most likely find me curled up with a good book or binge watching Netflix.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: What stuck with me most after my week long service trip was MEDLIFE's mission and methodology in attacking poverty and healthcare disparities. It drove my passion to continue working with underserved communities and led to my decision to volunteer in Armenia the following summer. Through these experiences, I found that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine and global health, but I knew I wanted to take some time off before attending graduate school. In coming across the year-long internship program on MEDLIFE's website, the description seemed like the perfect fit. It gave me the opportunity to travel, work with a diverse group of people, and work within and learn about the healthcare sectors of underserved communities. In the coming year, I look forward to having a more extensive role with MEDLIFE as an intern and am very excited to start working with the program.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Big and filled with crazy traffic! I was surprised to see how much of a bustling city Lima was. Having grown up in the suburbs, I look forward to a year in a big city. I can't complain about the food either. The menú lunch deals are delicious and hard to turn down at 11 soles (~$3).

What are your goals for this internship?: In having the opportunity to work directly with the communities that MEDLIFE serves, I hope to take the time to get to know the local community members that we work with and learn about their unique stories. It is my hope to gain a better understanding about the cultural and socioeconomic barriers that exist and how they exacerbate current disparities. Just as importantly, I hope to learn how we can play a role in narrowing the gaps of these disparities within these communities. Additionally, I hope to take full advantage of living in Lima and immerse myself within the Peruvian culture and improve my Spanish.


a2Name: Alison Bradley 
Hometown: Rockford, Illinois 
School: University of Michigan 
Major: Major Spanish, Minor Biology 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I volunteered on a clinic in Lima as a sophomore with the chapter at my university. Up until that point I had thought about a future doing research, but my experience with MEDLIFE made me realize my passion for working with people! It also gave me the push I needed to commit to declaring as a Spanish major.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: The rest of my family followed me to Michigan two years ago, so I am now dealing with my transition into identifying as true Michigander. Outside of school I was a caregiver at a non-profit care program for children and adults with special needs, where we provided quality care for our friends and looked for any reason to celebrate with cake! I love team sports and somehow found my way on to my University's Club Sailing Team. I spent four years squished in a mini-van with my best friends traveling all over the country to compete at regattas.

Why Did You Decide To Become An Intern?:  Where I grew up quality health care was a privilege that not every one had access to. I wanted to work for MEDLIFE because I respect their values as an organization and I want to learn more about breaking down these barriers to equitable health care access.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Pedestrians never have the right of way. Never. After I got past that, I was excited to learn about the culture of Peru and explore all of the amazingly unique neighborhoods of Lima!

What are your goals for this internship?:I want to learn more about providing respectful, quality health care in medically underserved areas! I'm also looking forward to improving my Spanish speaking skills, and possibly becoming an amateur salsa dancer.


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Name: Shayna Hamburg 
Hometown: Leawood, Kansas 
School: University of Colorado Boulder 
Major: Sociology with a minor in Education 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: MEDLIFE was recommended to me by a friend when I was expressing my interest in the field of public health. Through exploration of the website I quickly realized that this organization was a perfect fit for my goals and aspirations.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Although born and raised in the Midwest, I made my way to Boulder, Colorado as soon as possible in order to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle. Besides skiing and hiking, you can find me reading a good book, eating out with friends, or striking up a conversation with strangers in a coffee shop.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: After studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I was determined to find a way to live abroad to improve my Spanish. Additionally, I was hoping to get experience in a the field of public health. At first I wasn't sure if it was possible to accomplish both of these goals at the same time, but then I found the MEDprograms internship, which proved to be perfect solution!

What was your first impression of Lima?: After I clicked my heels three times, I found myself in Lima, Peru! Upon arrival, I was immediately overwhelmed due to the endless streets, cars, and people that make up this city. While this massive metropolis seems daunting at first, it leaves me eager to discover all that Lima has to offer. I guess I'm not in Kansas anymore!

What are your goals for this internship?: I hope this internship not only allows me to improve my Spanish skills, but also provides me with the tools to make a meaningful difference. Additionally, I hope to develop deeper insight into public health and development work. I intend to spend the next year serving those who need it most and gaining experiences that will aid my work in the future.


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Name: Sam Stevens 
Hometown: London, UK
School: University of Westminster 
Major: Politics and History BA
How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I applied to the communications internship, took a flight and here I am!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am passionate about politics and social justice, I hope to one day work in the political departments of the charity or public sector. I love sports and will play any sport if someone asks me, I also like to dance, write poetry, watch and discuss arthouse or classic films, art and philosophy. I'm an old soul so you will probably find me either engaging 100% or not at all.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I had a couple of job offers in other countries which were salaried, however I felt like my traveling and kindred spirit were not spent and thus I wanted to share my love and energy for a little longer!

What was your first impression of Lima?: This place is intense.

What are your goals for this internship?: Help others. Help myself.

August 24, 2016 3:15 pm

Meet the Year-long Interns 2016-2017 I

Written by Rosali Vela

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Name: Allie Krugman
Hometown: Newport Beach, CA
School: Claremont McKenna College
Major: International Relations with Human Rights Sequence 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I first learned of MEDLIFE from a high school friend who worked as a year-long intern.  After researching the organization's mission and work online, I decided that I wanted to become involved.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I have lived most of my life in sunny Southern California, close to the beach and fresh ahi poke. I graduated in 2015 from Claremont McKenna College and have since been working in Los Angeles at an HIV/AIDS non-profit. After MEDLIFE, I hope to venture out of California by attending graduate school for public health on the East Coast!  I enjoy having an active lifestyle: I pole-vaulted competitively for nine years, rock-climb both indoors and outdoors, and hope to become a better salsa dancer.  I also like to read and eat sushi.  I love meeting new people as well as growing my perspective with new ideas and experiences.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: During my junior year of college, I spent a semester abroad in Valparaíso, Chile, where I studied social justice and community development with the SIT program.  I fell in love with Chile: I found a close friend in my host sister, was enchanted by the bohemian and colorful city, and was drawn to the country's legacy of social movements and youth activism. The following summer, I completed an internship in Córdoba, Argentina, where I taught sexual health workshops to a group of young girls.  Through my experiences in Latin America as well as my undergraduate studies in International Relations, I became interested in identifying the political, economic, and social structures that give rise to health inequalities worldwide.  After I graduated, I sought work experience that would develop my interest in the intersection of health and human rights, as well as provide me with insight into field of public health from the perspective of a non-profit organization. The MEDLIFE internship was the perfect opportunity to gain insight into the real issues faced by low-income communities and analyze the steps taken to address them.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima is a large and vibrant Latin American city, bustling with people and very loose traffic laws.  We were quickly exposed to Lima's high socioeconomic inequality, demonstrated by the stark contrast between our environmentally-friendly San Borja and the expanse of shantytowns in Pamplona Alta, where residents lack access to water and stable infrastructure.

What are your goals for this internship?: Through the internship at MEDLIFE, I hope to gain a valuable on-the-ground perspective on poverty and the realities of working in the field of human rights.  I hope my work with MEDLIFE will have a measurable impact for the low-income communities of Lima. I also hope to take initiative through an independent project that will be helpful to MEDLIFE.


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Name: Tory Finley 
Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
School: Florida State Univeristy- Go Noles!
Major: Spanish and Italian 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I discovered MEDLIFE during my freshman year at FSU. While I majored in languages, my goal was actually to use my skills as a linguist and my knowledge of different cultures to work with Hispanic populations as a physician. I saw a flyer advertising our campus chapter's trip to Esmeraldas, Ecuador, and saw the perfect opportunity to work towards that dream. Best decision I ever made.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I'm a Navy brat, so I was basically born to be a traveler. From a very young age, my parents taught me to love and appreciate different languages and cultures, and that has led me to where I am today. I've ridden an elephant, been to almost every country in Europe, and my family once lived in Sicily, Italy, for three years! As a result, I am fluent in Italian (so don't take me to Olive Garden, unless you want me to correct the menu). I have worked with Hispanic migrant populations in Florida for the past two years, and loved every second. I am currently applying to medical school, and hope to be able to return and serve those same communities as a physician. I am incredibly passionate about culturally competent medicine, and I'm so excited to see where that passion takes me next! Fun facts: I almost majored in musical theater, I LOVE chocolate, and I once wore a Harry Potter uniform to school for a solid year (and am still very proud of it).

Why did you decide to become an intern?: My first mobile clinic experience really changed my view of the world, as well as my academic path. I chose my language major thinking "Oh, it will be useful to also speak Spanish as a doctor, given the rising Hispanic population in the U.S." When I left Ecuador, though, that major took on a whole new dimension. I threw myself into Hispanic cultural studies, and began pursuing classes in sociology, eager to try and understand where the problems I observed during my time in Esmeraldas had originated. MEDLIFE gave me a whole new way to approach medicine, and inspired me to try to change the world around me for the better. I had a gap year before medical school, and realized that there was nothing I would rather do than return to South America and work for the organization that inspired my path...and here I am!

What was your first impression of Lima?: My first thought was literally: "Oh, thank goodness, the Florida heat is gone." Seriously, though, it was crazy how different the weather was. I went from constant sun and ridiculous heat and humidity to cool temperatures and pretty regular cloud cover. The way people drive in Lima, however, is so much like the crazy bustle of Italian roadways that it felt just like home.

What are your goals for this internship?: I am excited to improve my Spanish even more, and I want to leave this internship with a deeper understanding of sociological and infrastructural factors that play into poverty, and how these trickle down to affect underserved populations' health. I plan on taking the knowledge I gain here and applying it to migrant healthcare in the U.S.--while I love Peru, and I love MEDLIFE, there are many communities of underserved individuals back home, and I am determined to improve their experience and get them the help they so desperately need.


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Name: Emily Gardner 
Hometown: Southlake, TX (near Dallas)
School: Vanderbilt University 2015
Major: Biology and Spanish, Art History minor

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: My dear friend from another volunteer trip found out about MEDLIFE and decided to start a chapter at Vanderbilt. She popped the question (asked me to be her Vice President) and of course I said yes! I subsequently went on a mobile clinic to Cuzco during the summer before my junior year and also was an SAB member. I was the Co-President during my senior year and went on another amazing mobile clinic to Esmeraldas before graduation.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in Texas and come from an ample family of seven younger brothers, two parents, and a dog. After college I served for a year with AmeriCorps in San Francisco at a community clinic acting primarily as a health coach for overweight pediatric patients and their families. I love dance of all styles, starting books and not finishing them, cult classic films, attempting to meditate, meeting new people, and volunteering. I identify as a pathological extrovert and live to eat rather than eat to live. As for my life goals, I hope to eventually become a primary care Pediatrician, serve with the Peace Corps, work with Doctors Without Borders, and maybe teach dance classes.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: Since I devoted so much time to MEDLIFE in college, I decided that the internship was the natural next step; for me, there is little point to joining an organization if you cannot learn, grow, and deepen your involvement with it. The ability to live abroad is also extremely important to me; I place a lot of value on travel and broadening my global perspective. Most importantly, the experiences that I had on MEDLIFE mobile clinics in college radically changed my view of the world as well as my career path. I whole-heartedly believe that they made me a better and more well-rounded person. If I can help give that experience to even one college student via involvement with my chapters, it will be a successful year for me.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima was different than I was expecting! It's a a very large and bustling city, which is great because there are endless resources to tap into and corners of the city to explore. Life never seems to stop here and it's easy to thrive off the collective energy of everyone around you. The weather when you first arrive is a little grey, but I would say it's cozy rather than dreary. From Zumba classes at a nearby park to wonderfully cheap food, there's always something to do.

What are your goals for this internship?: From my year with AmeriCorps, I was able to learn a great deal about domestic health disparities. Through the MEDLIFE Volunteer Affairs Internship, I hope to learn more about the healthcare inequalities that run rampant in Latin America and on an international scale and more importantly, how someone like me can help start closing the gap. It has already become apparent to me that MEDLIFE and the communities we serve have many needs, be it funding for a new staircase, access to clean water, or medications. I hope to be able to foster thoughtful discourse with my chapters in the U.S in order to encourage and inspire them to affect change both locally and globally.


a8Name: Marissa Reinhart
Hometown: Fostoria, Ohio
School: The Ohio State University 
Major: B.S. in Pharmeceutical Studies  

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I found MEDLIFE by searching for volunteer organizations on campus my freshman year. I attended a few meetings, one of which talked about their next mobile clinic trip to Moshi, Tanzania, and I was hooked. Participating in that mobile clinic was life-changing and led me to participate in this internship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I'm a small town girl with big dreams. I hope to work with many people and communities to better others' as well as my own life. I'm also passionate about the environment and love to be outdoors! Traveling and meeting new people from different cultures makes me the happiest.

Why Did You Decide To Become An Intern?  I just graduated in May and wanted to take time off before heading to grad school to travel and practice my Spanish. MEDLIFE was the perfect option for me because it is directly related to the issues I care about most. I love MEDLIFE's model and how they operate as an NGO, so it was a great fit for me!

What was your first impression of Lima?: That it is a huge city with lots of traffic, probably because I got here during rush hour. However, along with a large city comes tons of things to do and explore which I love. Also, food here is amazing!

What are your goals for this internship?: To learn more about how NGOs operate, especially in the scope of public health. I would like to expand my knowledge of the challenges patients and communities face every day and how these challenges became a prominent reality. It is important to me to learn about the infrastructure that leads to major social injustices and how MEDLIFE goes about solving those issues in order to translate those solutions into future experiences.


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Name: Brittany Cook
Hometown: Papilion, Nebraska 
School: University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Major: Biological Sciences 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: There was not a chapter on my campus my first year at the University. I heard someone talking about a new organization on campus in one of my classes that focused on giving health care to those in need. After asking for more details, I attended a few meetings and joined the organization the following semester. After seeing the impact the mobile clinic had on the members who went that semester, I decided to go the following year. After spending a week in Lima, myself, I had a further understanding of what MEDLIFE stood for. I understood the importance of the efforts made by members on campus who fundraised for the organization to help it grow and help communities in need. I remained an active member of the organization during my last year at the University through fundraising and informing others about MEDLIFE.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in Nebraska (Go Big Red) and moved with my family to Maryland after graduating in May 2015. I enjoy hiking, coffee/tea, puns, and reading - my favorite books being Harry Potter. I also enjoy traveling, meeting new people, and medical science; I am aspiring to become a doctor and find a career that integrates these interests.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I first became interested in interning with MEDLIFE after discussing the position with the intern who led my mobile clinic in March 2014. The conversation began as a form of distraction while I passed her heavy buckets of cement to build the staircase but quickly turned into something I saw for my own future. Through her descriptions, I saw the unique way that MEDLIFE cares for those who have limited or no access to healthcare. I wanted to be a part of an organization that sees its patients as unique and deserving individuals and leaves a lasting impact on the surrounding communities.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Being from a suburb in the Midwest, I first saw Lima as slightly overwhelming and confusing. As I explored the city, I was shocked by the vast differences between the districts of the city. Some districts are extravagant while others are lacking in basic needs such as water and electricity. In San Borja, specifically, the varying cultural influences are evident in the shops, buildings, and food selections. The people take pride of their beautiful and vibrant city; the parks are welcoming, the landscaping intricate, and the people welcoming.

What are your goals for this internship?: I want to cultivate an encouraging environment for students who are in MEDLIFE. I hope to support the campus chapters and enable them to grow therefore helping MEDLIFE to expand and reach more communities in need. My goal is to ultimately learn all I can about MEDLIFE and the people we are aiding so that I can spread the knowledge and further develop the organization.


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Name: Kristine Zimmerman
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD
School: University of Nebraska- Lincoln
Major: Biology/ Pre- Medicine, minor in Gerontology
How I got involved with MEDLIFE:  I got involved with MEDLIFE my junior year in college through the chapter on my campus.  I attended a mobile clinic that spring in Lima, Peru.  This allowed me to see the disparity in health care around the world, and helped me to recognize what I could do to help my own communities back home.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in South Dakota, and decided to go to the University of Nebraska- Lincoln for my undergraduate degree (Go Big Red!).  Although Nebraska has fueled my love for football I grew up playing soccer and continue to be an avid Argentina and Barcelona fan.  I am an adrenaline- junkie of sorts and love most sports.  I also love to cook and look forward to experiencing Peruvian cuisine, especially churos!  If I'm not eating, you can usually find me reading, running or watching Grey's Anatomy.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I have a great respect for the goals and missions of MEDLIFE.  There is a great need to help people around the world, but I believe there is a greater need for people to be empowered.  MEDLIFE goes above and beyond every day to ensure that the people we encounter are treated with respect, dignity and equality.  The deep conections MEDLIFE workers have with members of the communities they help is astonishing and creates pathways for effective medical care, follow-up care and continued community improvements.  MEDLIFE listens to and understands how to attain what the poor need.  They empower these people to work together to achieve their goals, which is exactly the model I wish to use with future patients as a physician.  

What was your first impression of Lima?: Honestly, Lima is completely overwhelming.  Coming from the Midwest, where most places are a small town or have a similar feel, moving to a big city was a lot to take in.  Everyday is a new experience, whether it's seeing a unique place, exploring exotic foods you can't pronounce yet or engaging in cultural activities... I can't wait to see what's all out here!

What are your goals for this internship?: I am dedicated to the things that I'm passionate about, which includes improving public health and conditions for the poor communities here- and a huge goal for me is simply getting more people to be passionate about this as well.  I want to take advantage of the time I have here, working beyond 8-5 and going out into the communities as much as possible to meet the people and understand their struggles in order to further MEDLIFE as an organization.  

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