The virtual internship and seminar was a six week distanced learning program comprised of 225 hours. The Public health internship was divided into three mini-internship sites. We spent two weeks per site experiencing the role of the site in improving the public health in Kenya, specifically Kisumu County. The three sites were Kisumu County Department of Health (KCDH), Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI).
A typical week included both synchronous and asynchronous sessions involving almost 40 hours of work. Every morning we would have two hours of presentations hosted by the internship site. These presentations involved different topics each day for example maternal health, HIV, malaria, oncology, etc. Each internship site covered specific topics that were presented by a host. Then students were given assignments to present which were discussed during breakout sessions. The internship site seminars covered diverse topics but in fine detail and required active listening. These seminars improved and enhanced my knowledge about the management and awareness of diseases.
After the internship seminars by the host site, we had SIT seminars every Monday and student presentations every Friday for two hours. The students were allotted groups and every week we were given a topic or research question to present on. We conducted research, evaluated resources and analyzed intensive data to form a comprehensive presentation. The group work and breakout sessions were a good way to get to know other students since we had limited interaction due to the online format. We conducted zoom meetings outside of class to work on our presentations and to socialize. There were some challenges such as different time zones since students participated from all around the world. However, it encouraged global inclusiveness, teamwork, and collaborative skills.
Interestingly we were able to explore the Kenyan culture especially by learning Swahili. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we met for Swahili class after the seminars. It was interesting to track my progress from day one to the last week. We started by learning the basic greetings and ended by conducting proper conversations. This was the most enjoyable class because everyone was actively involved, and we were able to peek into the Kenyan culture through the language. It was interesting to learn that some of the food that I grew up eating were the staple dishes in Kenya.
In addition to the internship sessions, we submitted two assignments based on the provided videos and articles as well as submission of weekly journal entries every week. Overall, the internship was a comprehensive program that covered written, verbal, and analytical aspects. As I reflect on my internship experience it was very intensive which helped me demonstrate awareness of ethics in research, enhanced the understanding of global issues and gain valuable experience through experimental learning. I was able to improve written, communication and analytical skills. I also gained confidence in presentations, public speaking and enjoyed making new friends. Gaining insight into the departments helped me recognize the diseases in the Tropics and learn about the research procedures and ethics. I was able to immerse myself within the Kenyan culture and learn the beautiful Swahili language. Although it was online, I was able to get a close experience to what it would have been like in person.
If I had to describe this experience to someone, I would say that internship in Kenya was an immersive experience in the health management field and encouraged proactive learning and engagement with classmates, supervisors and hosts from around the world. It has helped me prepare for graduate school because I have improved in my academic and social skills. The internship has helped me gain data analysis, research skills and global immersion experience that will benefit me in the diverse environment in graduate school and help excel in conducting and presenting research.
Mubrra Amir is majoring in Biology (Pre-Professional) and participated in the summer 2021 URaCE and Office of Study Abroad virtual research internship abroad to Kenya through SIT Study Abroad. Mubrra had the following to say about the virtual internship abroad experience, “I had an amazing experience exploring the public health issues in Kenya especially through the lens of research.”
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