Submitted by Bridget Pasapane on Tue, 10/20/2015 - 1:26pm
Congratulations to “Global Leader Scholarship” recipient, Julia Carter, from the Society chapter at Pennsylvania State University.
Julia Carter majored in Biology and minored in Spanish at Pennsylvania State University before graduating this past spring. She’s currently continuing her education and pursuing a Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology with a Global Health Certificate at the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health.
During spring break in 2015, Julia participated in a medical/environmental hybrid program in Panama for ten days with “Global Brigades”. Global Brigades is an international non-profit organization that empowers communities to meet their health and economic goals through university volunteers and local teams. The mission of this program was to empower volunteers and under-resourced communities to resolve global health and economic disparities, and inspire all involved to collaboratively work toward an equal world. Based on her work during spring break, Julia was offered the opportunity to return to Panama for a three-week internship this past summer. As the recipient of the “Global Leader Scholarship”, the Society was able to support Julia, enabling her to return for the internship. She participated in a behind-the-scenes capacity, accompanying Global Brigades staff on visits to the communities and daily meetings. This allowed Julia to receive insight into the community selection and preparation processes of the program.
During her internship, Julia wrote about her experiences and we’re excited to share part one of her story with you today.
My Study Abroad Society Experience – Part One
By: Julia Carter
Before stepping off the plane on Panamanian land, I felt the change in atmosphere and climate. The air was warm and filled with humidity, while the sun blazed high above the palm trees. I embraced the warmth and welcomed my new adventure in the beautiful country of Panama. For the next few weeks, I would be working with the non-profit organization Global Brigades to improve all aspects of life for the country’s people.
When I arrived at the Darien compound, where I would be staying, I noticed that the grounds were set up in a dormitory style, with a central meeting hut and a cafeteria. The first day was filled with orientations, meetings, introductions, and of course dinner. The itinerary for my time in Panama was filled from morning to evening with a variety of activities, including medication packing, volunteering in the medical clinic, participating in environmental labor and speaking with the natives.
The first hands-on activity that I participated in was the packing of medication bags, which were distributed at the free medical clinics in under-developed regions of Panama. It was a glimpse into the pharmaceutical field, and we had to be extremely accurate counting pills and bagging materials. A mistake during this project could have potentially been drastic for a Panamanian consuming the medication. It was also eye-opening because things such as vitamins, which we take for granted, are highly valued in these areas of the country.
Skills that I obtained during my time in the Society have greatly contributed to my experience here in Panama. Not only did I have to effectively communicate with my leaders and peers, but also with the natives. Team building was also valued greatly among the group I worked with. Success can only be achieved if everyone works together as a team to accomplish the goals at hand. We had team meetings every night in the central hut, where we reflected on the work done that day and shared insight and feedback we thought would enhance the experience for ourselves or those we were helping.
Adapting to the Panamanian culture is a hurdle that every visitor must endure. I’m fortunate to have visited Panama prior to this trip, which helped me to adjust. The language barrier can also be very intimidating for non-Spanish speakers, and even though I am fluent in Spanish, my best advice is that body language speaks volumes. Often times, you may not understand the words being said, but can understand the actions and movements. This can significantly help people communicate without using words.
It’s very rewarding to know that I was making a difference, even if for only one person. It matters and I am thankful that, with the help of The National Society of Leadership and Success, I could be a part of a great organization helping people all over the world.
The experience was off to a great start, and I was very excited to see what the rest of the internship had in store for me.
Monday, October 19, 2015