The deadline to apply for a 2016 summer Global Health Elective is February 5 at 4pm. These programs allow you to work on an interprofessional team with one of our international partner organizations, and to be mentored by a Dalhousie faculty member. These programs are available to students in Medicine (first & second year), Health Professions and Dentistry. We offer pre-departure training sessions for all students participating in international electives, and students complete in-country orientation. These elective opportunities (observerships) are available for the summer months in Tanzania, Ghana and Thailand.
The Tanzania Summer Program offers hands-on experience to learn about the Tanzanian healthcare system with our partner, Pastoral Activities and Services for People with AIDS Dar es Salaam Archdiocese (PASADA). While at PASADA, you’ll see an innovative community-based model for providing HIV and AIDS services, while working with highly-skilled Tanzanian staff.
Dalhousie student Braden Kingdon was a PASADA intern during the summer of 2015. In order to give you a better idea of what the PASADA internship entails, we asked him a few questions about his experience.
1. How did you hear about the PASADA internship?
The program manager at the time contacted me personally through email about the opportunity. I am President of the Recreation Department Society at Dalhousie; she requested that I spread the word through our program. After spreading the word and thinking hard about it, I decided to apply myself as well.
2. What was your role as an intern at PASADA? What projects did you work on?
I was a part of a wide range of projects while at PASADA. I was initially sent out there with the intent of working with children who were living with HIV/AIDS, running health and safety clinics. This all changed upon my arrival in Dar es Salaam. I was working with the children yes, but only on Tuesdays for half of the day. For most of the other days I was working in the Key Populations (KP) Department, we tested and treated people within the marginalized communities of men who have sex with men (MSM), female sex workers (FSW), and injection drug users (IDUs). The KP department team would travel out into the communities to meet people at their homes with a mobile clinic. While back from the community, in the office I was mainly doing research. I was helping the medical director at PASADA put his dissertation together for publication in the Tanzanian Journal of Health Research. While helping him, I was also developing a research proposal for PASADA to help gain some funding and further their understanding of the MSM community. This was done through focus groups, personal interviews, and questionnaires. The overarching goal was to keep pushing towards increases in access to healthcare for the MSM community in Tanzania.
3. Was pre-departure training helpful in enriching your experience in Tanzania?
I believe it was helpful in enriching my experience in Tanzania. The material covered in the training was great at outlining safety precautions and travelling tips. The cultural aspect was a brief overview of what I was to expect, but it did not prepare me for the vast difference in way of living. In my opinion, this portion of the experience must be gained from actual exposure to the culture; no book or story will truly prepare you for the greatness that is the Tanzanian culture.
4. What have you learned from your experience in Tanzania? Has this impacted your day to day in Halifax?
My experience in Tanzania has taught me about the importance of living in the moment. Growing up in Canada we are all driven on this straight path towards success, if you fall off it you are often considered a failure. My time in Tanzania opened my mind up to the journey as opposed to just the end goal. If I ever had a bad day, my colleagues would lift me up and make me realize that I can only change what I can control, everything else is not worth worrying about. This has definitely followed me back to Halifax. Without the stress of worrying about uncontrollable factors I am able to focus on the tasks at hand, while enjoying the journey through life.
5. Drawing on your experience partnering with PASADA through the Global Health Office, how would you define a successful partnership?
I would define a successful partnership as one that has continual open communication, trust, and a mutually beneficial outcome. This is definitely something I feel the Global Health Office and PASADA had throughout my internship. I was able to contact anyone from the Global Health Office while in Tanzania, and the team at PASADA was an exceptional group of hosts. From teaching me Kiswahili to taking me to the beach for a sunset, it was a successful partnership inside and outside the walls of the clinic.
6. What advice do you have for Dalhousie students who are interested in the PASADA internship program?
My first piece of advice would be definitely apply because it will be the best summer (or term) of your life! I would also advise them to leave any preconceptions in Canada, it is likely that everyday will be a surprise and different from the last. It is also important to conquer your fears while you are there. Especially if you are in my case and you are by yourself for a while. Leave your comfort zone and go outside, walk around the city, there is so much to do! I found great friends in the American Peace Corp group who is always in Tanzania, and travels through Dar es Salaam regularly. But, do not limit yourself to this group of people. The staff at PASADA is very friendly and love to have fun, go to the movies with them, go to the beach with them, all you have to do is ask.
Thank you to Braden for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his PASADA experience with all of us! Braden has also kindly offered to answer any further questions you may have about the internship and his experience via e-mail.
Interested in International Electives? You can find more information on our offerings, as well as apply online, on our website. Remember – the deadline to apply is February 5 at 4pm!