Only nine hours after the last final of my sophomore year, I was on the road back to Cleveland, Ohio with an SUV full of clothes and office supplies. By 6:00pm the next day I was unpacked. The following morning, I began to re-pack for my travel to Sargur, India. So, in clichè form, one end is another beginning (or something like that).
One of the biggest challenges in applying to this fellowship program is finding an organization that you (a) believe in and (b) is willing to communicate with you. For me, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) satisfied “a” with ease. SVYM is involved in the simple mission to make people’s lives better (who can’t agree with that?). Their work incorporates multiple disciplines, focusing on education, health, and personal financial literacy, just to name the three that stuck out to me.
With my interest in becoming a physician, SVYM suggested I work in one of their hospitals, Vivekananda Memorial Hospital, in Sargur India. The hospital is located in a rural area a few hours outside of the city of Mysore. Mysore, a smaller city, is two hours outside of Bangalore – an IT powerhouse that has one of the fastest growing economies in the world (and, fun fact, is a “sister-city” of Cleveland, Ohio).
While I am intending on producing easily comprehended health information for the surrounding populations, I am also interested in culture and meaning. I am interested in how the stigma of disease and disability is different and similar from our more “Westernized” American views (follow this link for an essay on some common myths or conceptions often held in the United States).
In truth, preparing for this journey has had emotional variability analogous to that of Ann Arbor weather. During the end of the term, I tossed and turned nervously contemplating how I would navigate four different airports in three different continents. Other days I sat on the edge of my seat eagerly waiting for May 5th to come, and I could begin on my journey. This final stretch has, however, had one overarching theme – exhilaration. I cannot wait to depart. I cannot wait to learn. I cannot wait to be challenged. This summer will be something that pushes me, and I cannot wait for it to begin.