In the beginning of my internship, I was overwhelmed by the new faces and names that were thrown at me on a daily basis, and probably like every other new intern, nervous of my reception. However, now I have made good friends in both the Bioko Island Malaria Control Project and the Equatorial Guinea Malaria Vaccine Initiative and everyday I learn more about them. I look forward to the morning greetings, the daily giggles, the invitations to eat lunch in a coworker’s apartment, and the conversations on the ride home with the BIMCP driver who is always “on his way” and 15 minutes late. In fact, the relationships I’ve built with my diverse coworkers is my proudest accomplishment so far.
I was lucky enough to grow up a traveler and because of that I am always eager to try new things, constantly carrying an open mind on my shoulders. During my time here, I have seen my coworkers appreciate this quality about me, and have opened up to me because of it. I think that’s a very important lesson that I’ve learned when working in a different country, and it can lead to not only great relationships, but also a greater exploration in the country you are working in and in the job that you are working for.
On a daily basis I take on many roles: translator, computer technician, listener, supporter, assistant, creator, editor, student, and teacher. However, I can monitor my steady progress when I reflect on my goals I set for myself before my internship started.
My first goal was to conquer the new data compiling system. During my internship I have had the chance to test the system at different levels and typed up summary reports of the errors and suggestions I had. I have been able to make a good impact on the system and have even met with the system’s supervisor and developer that came to visit EG. It was great to suggest my ideas in person and be involved in meetings regarding the development of the system.
Even though it was planned that I be a part of a running clinical trial; I have learned that clinical trials don’t always go according to plan. Therefore, over the past weeks I’ve been concentrating on pre-clinical trial work. Recently, I’ve been nose deep in formatting, editing, and reviewing study documents (general, lab, clinical, hospital). I also created a map of patient flow during the clinical trial, participated in an HIV counseling training in Spanish and aided in nurse recruitment. I have also improved my Spanish during my stay here, constantly breaking outside my comfort zone. I’ve proof read and translated documents as well as assisted in translation between teams.
Right now, I’m planning on taking a gap year between undergrad and medical school. After working at MCDI for some time I would love to work for MCDI during the gap year. I’m thankful to have already made great friends and connections. Although, I’m not certain of what I would like to do after medical school, I have reconfirmed my desire to work overseas and have decided that I want to pursue an MD/MPH degree as well. Although finding myself is going to be a long journey, I’m glad that I’ve started to take a few steps!
– Jessenia Knowles ’15