I write this on my way down to New York — finally the time has come to depart for Zimbabwe! Despite having had many months to contemplate my summer in global health, I don’t feel I even know what exactly to mentally prepare for. I have only a limited foundation of logistics from which to draw from in determining what to expect in Harare. Obviously that is also part of the appeal. I do know that I’m ready to throw myself into whatever I discover there, to stay open-minded, and to learn as much as I can. I’m looking forward to that inevitable and rather indescribable feeling of being immersed in the unfamiliar. As the trip gets closer, I am more and more appreciative of the structure of the program.
The idea of being accompanied by several other students and faculty is more comforting than I had expected. Hopefully we will foster valuable relationships, talk about our experiences, and make many memories. Based on what I’ve heard about the Zimbabwean people, I am also excited to meet a warm and interesting local population that I’ll definitely want to become more familiar with. I hope we are able to get to know both the city of Harare, as well as the country of Zimbabwe… the food, the culture, the music and so on. Thinking forward to third/fourth year, and the possible opportunity to return, I hope to foster an ongoing relationship with Zimbabwe, and that this trip is only the beginning.
I am particularly excited about being able to observe the differences and similarities in approaches to clinical medicine at the hospital. It’s interesting that I don’t actually know very much about the way grand rounds, etc. is executed in the United States, so this is really my first immersion in hospital based medicine. I’m trusting that it will ultimately shape my perspective for the better when I get into the clinics next year in Vermont. I am obviously a bit apprehensive about how useful I will be on the wards, and aim to avoid as much as possible being thought of as just in the way. I would like to get into good habits of looking things up in the evenings so that I can become increasingly competent on the team. Unfortunately, we also have to think about the level of inequities we will likely witness. I’m not entirely sure how I will react to this, but it is the reality of the situation, and maybe I will be able to channel my emotions into motivation to work harder and be more compassionate.
Lastly, I am just overwhelmingly grateful for this opportunity, and humbled to be in such a privileged position. I’m placing due expectations of myself not to have the elective wasted on me, and to let this trip be only the start of a long and influential involvement in global health.