It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since my internship ended. I’ve been putting off writing this last blog for a while now due to a busy schedule and ongoing self-reflection. Before my internship, I had a set of learning goals that I wished to, and did, accomplish: I spoke Spanish on a daily basis and continued to challenge myself throughout each day of my summer. I learned the basics behind a data-collecting program and worked with various medical professionals in the clinical trial setting. However, I also accomplished many tasks that I didn’t set goals for: I learned the difference between three species of mosquitoes and the difference between a male and female mosquito. I learned what a good Standard Operating Procedure looks like. I also grew more comfortable expressing my ideas to my colleagues.
In the last few weeks I’ve been asked countless times what I did over the summer. Now that I’ve had time to reflect on my summer experience I now know how great of an opportunity this was for me. I am determined to pursue a career in the public health area and have looked at classes at Brandeis I can apply my new knowledge to. I also recently met another CA that is a part of a Nothing but Nets chapter on campus that I hope to join this year. I’m very excited to keep in touch with my summer colleagues and to learn about the progress that is happening in Malabo. I know now that even the little things that I did were a part of a great cause. It’s very motivating to think that I was a part of a clinical trial for a potential malaria vaccine.
My advice for other interns is to be flexible! There were multiple times during my internship that I felt like my expectations of myself and my internship were not being met. It is during these times that you will learn something new about yourself and about “the working life.” MCDI was a great organization to work with and I encourage all interested people to apply to be an intern at one of their various sites. Working in a country that you are not accustomed to and in a field where the territory is new (like implementing a vaccine trial) can be frustrating at times. However, it is important to always carry a positive attitude and an open mind. I met some amazing and inspiring people during my internship that will continue to motivate me throughout my career.
In Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, MCDI concentrates on preventing malaria transmission through indoor spraying, bed net distribution and education as well as implementing a malaria vaccine trial with the PfSPZ vaccine created by Sanaria. During my internship, I had a chance to accompany the spray team to one of the remote villages that they visit. It was then that I learned that malaria, although a huge issue, was not as important to the community members of this village as it was to MCDI. Many members complained of their lack of clean water, electricity and stable houses and protested MCDI’s attempt to spray the houses because they lacked more essential items. It is difficult to pursue social justice in one area when there are other areas that need help too. It is important that we as individuals work together to provide social justice in all areas. All aspects of social justice are as equally as important as others. I know that I won’t be able to help everyone in the world, but I am determined to help in whatever area I specialize in and strive to understand and listen to those that I work with and for. Before I started writing this blog I felt as if it would be the end of my internship experience; however I am now more excited than ever to see where this experience will take me next. Thanks to everyone who helped me get here.
– Jesse Knowles