Friday, August 18, 2017
During the Summer of 2017, I was fortunate to participate in the ILR Global Service Learning (GSL) Program in India. For six weeks, I learned of India’s culture, economy, and history from esteemed Indian academics, and executed a project for the world-renowned non-profit human development organization, the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM).
I was tasked with analyzing the current revenue-generation system of SVYM’s Palliative Care Program and providing actionable, implementable recommendations to improve it. My final deliverable included a report of my observations, research, analysis, and recommendations, in addition to several marketing materials such as posters and social media posts to be utilized to enhance Program branding. The GSL Program in India pushed me to engage with the world beyond the classroom. My participation in classes and a service project allowed me to practice intercultural competence, gain experience that applied my studies in a real-world context, and execute a project that was pivotal to the continued success of SVYM’s impactful humanitarian efforts. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this meaningful program.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
SVYM has a great partnership with Sneha Kiran of the Mysore Spastic Society, which is a comprehensive school with rehabilitation services for those with Cerebral Palsy (CP). While the school was started by parents of children with Cerebral Palsy, they now have both children and adults enrolled. Most of them have CP, but there are also some with other special needs that keep them from schools with able-bodied children. Sneha Kiran is a place where the doors are open to anyone, and it is filled with some of the most compassionate and hardworking people I have ever had the pleasure to meet in my entire life. During my six weeks there, I examined the emotional intelligence and social quotient of children with CP through a set of informal assessments and activities, as well as volunteered in the classrooms wherever I was needed. Often an overlooked part of treating CP patients, the emotions and social skills that we possess as able-bodied/able-minded individuals are not always as easily grasped by those with CP. This makes it an even more important area to research and move forward in.
While I tried to be as prepared as I could possibly be before leaving for India, there was nothing that could have completely readied me for everything I would experience. Volunteering at Sneha Kiran was the first time in my life where I woke up every day excited to go to work and came home at the end of the day feeling exhausted but wholly fulfilled. Everyone at that school truly wants to be there. It was amazing to watch the able-bodied children push those in wheelchairs around between classes, and those who could communicate verbally speak for those who could not. I learned more about love and joy during my two months in India than I have in my twenty-two years or so of life.
I also had incredible experiences outside of Sneha Kiran, a few notable ones being when we visited a primary health center and got to visit the GH students at Kenchenahalli for a weekend. I will be forever grateful to SVYM, Sneha Kiran, and the Cornell Global Health Program for this life-changing summer, and I absolutely encourage all Global Health and pre-medical students to engage in this experience or one like it. There are some things that you will never truly grasp about a culture so different from your own unless you are able to see it with your own eyes. The people in Mysore will stay with me forever no matter where I am, and I will never stop being grateful for everything I learned in those eight short weeks.
Working on my project at Sneha Kiran Spastic Society!
Monday, August 14, 2017
This summer, I was privileged to be able to work and study with SVYM through the India Global Service learning program. The first two weeks were spent in Mysore, taking classes with Indian professors about a variety of subjects such as caste, Indian literature and the Indian Healthcare system. It enjoyed these two weeks incredibly because I had a chance to adjust to my surroundings, bond with my cohort and prepare myself for the next six project weeks.
After the two weeks concluded, I had the privilege of working on a maternity healthcare project in Vivekananda Memorial Hospital, located in Saragur. First, I identified trends in maternal delivery data. I found that there were more home deliveries in the tribal villages that SVYM serves than there are in Karnataka.Next, I analyzed cases of home deliveries and created a home delivery survey. I characterized women who delivered at home by site, month of delivery and other demographic factors and compared it with data from all deliveries. My mentor, Dr. Manohar, and I then made a survey to be given out to women who had delivered at home. The surveys were implemented in two villages. Finally, I wrote a paper on the characteristics of home deliveries from 2013-2017. We found that women who had delivered at home had a higher gravidity and a greater number of living children than women who delivered at an institution. This project period allowed me to gain a better understanding of the role of NGOs in development and the holistic nature of the work that SVYM does. It also gave me insight on the day-to-day work of community health leaders, a role that I hope to play in my career.
During my field experience, I was able to see that intercultural competency is critical in working in an international setting. Global Health courses at Cornell stress the cultural intricacies that affect intervention delivery, but I found that intercultural competency, humility and respect also affects the way that we work with local organizations and healthcare professionals. I definitely learned to focus more on the process, rather than just the outcome. I was so lucky to have participated in this program and really hope that I will be able to go back and visit SVYM in the future!
The Mobile Health Unit used for community Health Work
With one the mentors, Dr. Padmaja, an ob-gyn!