Student Stories

Summer 2015

Naomie Castin

cmNaomie is junior studying Biology and Society and pursuing a minor in Global Health in the College of Arts and Sciences. This past summer, she traveled to Moshi, Tanzania where she completed her 8-week field experience. During the first 4 weeks of the program, she worked alongside Tanzanian medical students on a project concerning mental health policy implementation in Urban Moshi, Tanzanian. After interviewing relevant stakeholders and gathering all the necessary data, she presented her work alongside 1 Cornellian and 2 Tanzanian medical students in both a presentation and a final research paper. For the remaining portion of the program, Naomie worked with the caring staff at Kusirye-u English Medium Pre & Primary School in the nearby town Machame, where she had the opportunity to teach a portion of the science curriculum to standard five grade school students. She also assisted in launching a pilot survey on finding the number of disabled children in Machame and their status in terms of what assistance they require versus what they are actually receiving. These 8 weeks in Tanzania were eye-opening and Naomie learned so much about her professional interests.

Douglas Donnelly
vbDoug is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences majoring in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Animal Physiology. He spent this past summer in Moshi, Tanzania wherein he took a 4-week class at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University-College about health policy in Tanzania. He developed a case study regarding Albinism as a risk factor for skin cancer throughout the country. This project provided Doug with the opportunity to engage with community physicians, patients, NGO leaders, and anthropologists in order to gain stakeholder perspective on this issue. The following four weeks in-country, Doug was lucky enough to shadow residents in the pediatric wards of a regional referral hospital, take a course in Geographic Information Systems for Development, and use the skills he learned to map out health seeking behaviors in a rural village, Mweka. This experience provided Doug with academic, cultural, personal learning that he has brought back with him, and will continue to use throughout his everyday life. It was definitely one of the most rewarding, humbling, and meaningful experiences he has ever had.

Outside of the hospital, Jacob had ample opportunities to explore Mwanza. It's lively open-air market, beautiful views of Lake Victoria, delicious local restaurants, and fantastic hiking made Mwanza an exciting place to live. He was able to travel to Tanzania's celebrated national parks and visit Zanzibar's historical Stone Town and white-sand beaches. The experiences Jacob had in Tanzania reaffirmed his interests in pursuing a career in medicine with plans to continue on to medical school after graduation from Cornell.

Laura Harnett

5During Laura's first four weeks she lived with a wonderful homestay family in Moshi and took a course at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC). With a team of Cornell and KCMC students she completed a policy case study on the rollout of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine in Tanzania. The project taught her a great deal about the Tanzanian health system and health policy, and also gave her an opportunity to form friendships with her Tanzanian peers. During her second four weeks Laura volunteered at a children's home called Light in Africa (LIA). She stayed on site during the week and traveled the short trip back to Moshi on weekends to reconnect with her homestay family. At LIA Laura helped Mama Lynn and the staff with a range of tasks from painting the playground fence and picking beans, to accompanying children to the hospital and preparing and serving food at a remote food kitchen. Some of her favorite moments at LIA were spent playing with the children or listening to Mama Lynn's incredible stories over coffee and tea. Laura fell in love with Tanzania and is extremely grateful for the experiences this program gave her.

Paige Killelea
jv khPaige is a junior majoring in Human Biology, Health and Society and minoring in Global Health. This summer Paige went to Tanzania for eight weeks. During the first four weeks of her trip, she took a class at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College with fourth year medical students and her fellow Cornell peers. In this class, Paige and her group developed a policy analysis case study that evaluated the awareness of aflatoxins in urban Moshi. Through this experience Paige developed wonderful friendships with both her Cornell and Tanzanian peers. These relationships allowed her to gain a deeper understanding about life in Tanzania. She also learned a lot about herself and became much stronger at group work. During these weeks she lived with a homestay family, who really became a second family for her. She loved family dinners and learning to cook with her mama and baba. For the second four weeks Paige volunteered at Machame Hospital, which is in Machame (a rural village on Mount Kilimanjaro). Paige stayed at the hospital guest house and loved her time getting to know the clinical officers, nurses and doctors at the hospital. At the hospital Paige was able to learn from attending morning class with the clinical officers and shadowing in various departments at the hospital. She was also able to participate on outreach trips with hospital staff, where they would set up clinics in more remote locations on the mountain. Paige is so thankful for her time in Tanzania as it has helped her grow as a person and pushed her to re-evaluate her prior perspectives and beliefs.

Vivian Montes

nkjVivian Montes embarked on her field experience in the summer of 2015. She was part of the Cornell program that went to Moshi, Tanzania. In her field experience she was able to learn about various aspects of life and people in Tanzania. In collaboration with medical students at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College, she worked on developing a case study, "Albinism as a Risk Factor for Squamous Cell Carcinoma." She was very engaged in the project because the medical condition of albinism is not stigmatized in the United States, and it was in Tanzania. She learned about the various factors that limit people with albinism from receiving the medical care they need in order to prevent skin cancer, primarily squamous cell carcinoma, and to increase their short life expectancy. With careful analysis of the risk factors, stakeholders, and medical care available, her team developed a policy case study that they were very proud of and she hopes to continue this kind of work in the future. As the second phase of her field experience Vivian worked at WEECE, Women's Education and Economic Centre, with young women in vocational training. This center provided comprehensive training in English, math, accounting, computer skills, as well as skills including tailoring, cooking, and batik. She taught English, math, and computers, and really bonded with the women while learning a lot from them as well. The young women were encouraged to start their own business with the skills and training obtained at WEECE and in turn join a Village Community Bank (VICOBA). A VICOBA gives out loans to the women and they have enough time to pay them back through their business earnings, and as a result expand their business. WEECE is being expanded onto a new campus and this will give many more young women the opportunity to earn vocational training and begin their own businesses in order to gain financial independence. Vivian was inspired by the leader of WEECE, Valeria Mrema, and hopes to help and encourage young women to gain financial independence in her own home town. Her field experience gave her a new perspective on health and women in a global scale and she will take this new knowledge and continue to learn about health delivery and access to marginalized groups.

Caitlin Noonan
cxbcLast summer, Caitlin spent eight weeks in Moshi, Tanzania as part of the Cornell Global Health Summer Program. During the first half of the experience, she worked in a cross-cultural team with medical students from Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUCo) to prepare a policy case study on adolescent pregnancy in the context of the Kilimanjaro region. The group interviewed local stakeholders such as adolescents, young mothers, and local health workers while conducting extensive research on practical interventions to address the issue. The KCMUCo students and faculty taught her about the Tanzanian healthcare system while she also formed new friendships.


Olivia Olson

 cvOlivia Olson is a Nutritional Science major, minoring in Global Health and Inequality Studies. This past summer, Olivia traveled to Moshi, Tanzania through the Global Health Tanzania Summer Program. The goals of this eight-week program are to enhance cross-cultural competence and give students the opportunity to gain a deep understanding of global health. Olivia lived with a local family and for the first four weeks of her stay, worked alongside Tanzanian medical students to research and conduct a policy case study on cervical cancer and the HPV Vaccine. During the second half of the program, she spent a month working with a rural primary school in Machame. She taught after-school nutrition classes, and led a research project to assess how accessible schools in Machame are for children with both physical and mental disabilities. Caitlin's next four weeks in Moshi were spent interning at the Network Against Female Genital Mutilation (NAFGEM), a local non-governmental organization that works to end the practice of female genital mutilation through community engagement and education. She helped conduct qualitative interviews with Maasai women participating in NAFGEM's economic empowerment program. Working with NAFGEM's visionary leaders, she was inspired by the positive impacts grassroots organizations can have when they involve all members of the community in making change. Throughout the experience, Caitlin's beliefs and conceptions of global health were continuously reshaped. She learned the value of finding similarities and appreciating differences of those around her and the beauty of human connection. She feels proud to have been a part of such a collaboration.

Sisi Peng
vbvSisi is a senior studying Communication and minoring in Global Health in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Sisi was first interested in traveling to Tanzania ever since she interviewed two visiting Tanzanian doctors for her final project during the Introduction to Global Health course in Spring 2014. This past summer, she completed her 8-week field experience through the Cornell Summer Program in Moshi, Tanzania. During her first four weeks, she attended a course taught at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC). The course consisted of a cohort of Tanzanian medical students and Cornell undergraduates. Sisi was in a five-member group working with one other Cornell student and three fourth-year Tanzanian medical students. Her group investigated the issue of teenage pregnancy in the Kilimanjaro region. This is an issue since Tanzania holds one of the highest adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in the world. Through literature review, surveys, and stakeholder interviews, her group compiled a paper addressing the issue via a human rights perspective. For the last four weeks, Sisi worked at the Better Health for African Mother and Child (BHAMC) research office in the Majengo Health Centre, a government-owned primary care facility that mainly serves mothers and children. She shadowed health care workers in the maternity ward, antenatal care department, and reproductive and child health services. Based on her observations in the clinic, Sisi compiled a final report for BHAMC on the topic of exclusive breastfeeding practices and developed a pilot intervention for breastfeeding promotion at the health facility. Exclusive breastfeeding is critical for the growth and development of infants for the first six months of life. It is a major cost-efficient preventive measure that can greatly reduce infant mortality rates and the prevalence is still low in the Kilimanjaro region. Fortunately, the recommended intervention was approved and will be piloted at the Majengo Health Centre. This field experience was a valuable learning experience for Sisi. These eight weeks in Tanzania helped Sisi realize her academic and professional goals as well as broaden her personal interests. To this day, she still keeps in contact with her homestay family and Tanzanian friends. If the opportunity arises, Sisi would love to travel to Tanzania again!

Ilana Porges

eysredIlana is a senior majoring in Biological Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She participated in an eight-week field experience in Moshi, Tanzania. During the first month of her stay, she studied health policy at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUC). In this course, she collaborated with a group of Cornell and KCMUC students to assemble and present a case study assessing the prevalence and risks of squamous cell carcinoma among people with albinism. During the second month, she volunteered with Building a Caring Community (BCC), an NGO which works to provide services for children with disabilities and support for their families. Through BCC, Ilana helped in facilitation of education and recreation for children with special needs in a classroom setting. The Tanzania summer program was a novel opportunity to explore global health through experiential learning, and she is grateful for such a meaningful summer experience.

Rachel Reindorf

 bvbRachel spent this past summer in Moshi, Tanzania. For four weeks, she collaborated with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) medical students and Cornell students in order to develop a case study about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine coverage in Tanzania. The group work was simultaneously demanding and rewarding. Working with people from another culture and conducting stakeholder interviews helped Rachel learn about Tanzania's culture, government and healthcare system. During the second half of the program, Rachel volunteered at Machame Lutheran Hospital in Machame, Tanzania. There, she was able to shadow nurses, clinical officers and doctors. Rachel was also able to attend outreach programs to local villages. Not only did this experience help her learn about patient care in a hospital, but it also helped her learn about healthcare access in rural areas. This summer experience helped her experience Tanzanian culture, form new bonds and strengthened her interest in rural healthcare.

Denise Saint-Jean

123This past summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to Moshi, Tanzania where I stayed with a wonderful homestay family and made many Tanzanian friends. The Tanzanian program was an eight program involving a class and service placements. In the first four weeks of the program, I worked with two medical students at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC) and another Cornell student to develop a case study focusing on prostate cancer diagnosis in Moshi and how to prioritize men's health in the region and increase early screening. To develop an extensive paper, we had to interview department heads, the District Medical Officer (DMO), patients, and even their families. At the end of the class, we presented our topic and research to the KCMC staff and faculty, a presentation that our stakeholders or interviewees were also invited to. In the second half of the program I worked at a center run by the NGO Building a Caring Community (BCC). BCC provides a place where children with special needs (physical or developmental disabilities) can go during the day. Most centers are geared towards education and disability management, providing the children with two meals a day and various activities. I have had some of the best experiences in my life during those eight weeks. From being able to assist the workers at my centers, working with the kids, and living among Tanzanian natives, I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity and would definitely encourage others to go.

Harold Shin
w3t5wsb3e5tHarold Shin returned to one of his favorite continents, Africa, for 8 weeks specifically in Moshi, Tanzania. He spent the first half of the program working with Tanzanian medical students at KCMUCo researching and developing a case study about Aflatoxin awareness in the local community. Throughout this collaboration, he was able to develop close relationships with his Tanzanian peers and learn more about their culture. For the second half of the program, Harold volunteered at a NGO, Light in Africa. Light in Africa was a children's home that took in all sorts of different orphans and children from the Moshi area. There, Harold carried out all sorts of tasks from painting fences, upholstering chairs, playing with the kids, helping out with food kitchens, medical outreaches, and more. He was able to meet amazing people with huge hearts for Tanzania like Mama Lynn as depicted in the picture. This Global Health trip further affirmed Harold's desire to continue pursue a career related to the field.

Adina Zhang

xdfdAdina spent two months of this past summer in Moshi, Tanzania. In the first four weeks, she attended a policy case study class at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical College (KCMC). Along with two Tanzanian medical students and one other Cornell student, she developed and presented a case study that addressed the large prevalence of undiagnosed mental health disease in urban Moshi. In developing their case study, they analyzed the current mental health policies and implementation through stakeholder interviews. The second four weeks of the program, Adina was able to shadow in KCMC's pediatrics ward, visit a community health worker training session, and participate in a two-week GIS (Geographic Information Systems) training program. A part of the GIS program included a field opportunity where she and other GIS participants were able to practice using Open Data Kit by taking household health surveys in Mweka Village.