After acclimating to Eastern Standard time and catching up on some much needed sleep, I cannot believe that I am already back from Patna. The experience was surreal. Looking back at my pictures and explaining them to my family has allowed me to really reflect on the hectic days spent at the AB Eye Institute (http://www.abei.eyemd.org/). I am eager to go back to Brandeis with my deepened appreciation for nonprofit organizations, such as Unite For Sight, and work towards my fundraising goals for a club I co-founded named Brandeis FACE AIDS. I have seen how impactful donations to sustainable charities can be, and look forward to fundraising with that in mind. I also hope to see my passion for global health initiatives grow as I enter the healthcare field, and that I will be able to intertwine my professional life with the fulfillment I derive from charity work.
Upon returning to Brandeis, I will continue to work towards a career in optometry that will be strongly driven by the positive experience working with the senior optometrist. I hope to continue to seek out mentors who will teach me that professionalism and empathy are possible regardless of the environment you work in.
If another student were to ask me about volunteering through Unite For Sight I would encourage them to look into the commitment seriously. The process to become a Global Impact Fellow is a rigorous one, with an extensive application process. Once accepted, I needed to collect 600 donated glasses, complete a preparatory course and take the corresponding exams. Once finally arriving in India, I learned everything I needed to know ‘on the job’, but it required a lot of patience and my own desire to learn and become a productive member of the AB Eye staff. Therefore, I would recommend to any prospective volunteers that they take initiative and ask questions. The more work you put into the clinic and your role there, the more you get to take back with you, in the form of memories and knowledge. The eye is a fascinating organ, and in my opinion, a vital one. Without sight, daily tasks become daunting. Working, cooking, traveling, and other daily activities are exponentially more challenging without vision- making my position as a Unite For Sight volunteer that much more rewarding when restoring patients sight. Funding free cataract surgeries and giving out donated glasses to those in need was an important part of my experience. It made me feel like I was giving to the community in the most profound way.
The work I accomplished with Unite For Sight has strengthened my perceptions of social justice and the ability of a small group of likeminded people to make a difference. At Brandeis, students are taught that they are capable of righting the wrongs of the world. Watching it in action in Patna by people who see a need and meet the demands was inspiring. My experience in Patna increased my awareness of poverty and the efficacy of good hearted charity organizations.