Geoff Soybel - Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Quezalguaque, León, Nicaragua

Our group learned of the numerous ways in which to descend a volcano. I’m pictured here demonstrating the traditional “hiking” method on Las Maderas, one of the two volanoes that form Isla Ometepe.

Career goal: My career goal is to oversee programs that contribute to the improved health and development in international settings with a focus in Latin America.

Internship outline: Geoff worked with a team of MPH students from Boston University for the Brookline/Quezalguaque Sister City Project. Their primary goal was to assess local knowledge, attitudes and practices surrounding chronic kidney disease (CKD) and peritoneal dialysis. They also conducted water testing to determine hardness, bacteria and pesticide concentrations. Hard water and pesticides are thought to contribute to this endemic form of CKD. The team also led sexual health chats with the local primary and secondary students and completed oral hygiene and practices questionnaires with young people in the municipality.

Value of experience: This experience was extremely valuable in affording me the opportunity to gain international work experience in a region I hope to focus on professionally. It was a comprehensive public health experience, which allowed me to implement myriad classroom lessons into real world practice. From survey development and administration to water sampling to sexual education to collaboration with local researchers and policy makers, I could not have asked for a more well-rounded public health practicum.   

Best moment/experience: It’s hard for me to pick a single moment.  I was so happy with the collective effort that the research team put in, and I was proud that we were able to contribute to a locally-conceived research effort that very well may transform the region’s approach to treating a debilitating, often lethal, diagnosis.

Funding source: Overlook International Foundation

Geoffrey Soybel