Suraj Arshanapally - Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva, Switzerland

Here, I am sitting at my desk. The best part about this placement was the room of amazing interns! It wasn’t long before we became a close family who organized picnics and trips to the beach throughout the summer.

Career goal:

I want to improve access to health and human rights education through communication and media outlets.

Internship outline:

As an intern for the World Health Organization (WHO), I was based in the Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases department. My two main projects focused on health literacy. First, the Shanghai Declaration identifies health and well-being as integral to achieving the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Therefore, a health literacy implementation plan was being developed. I conducted a country level assessment of health literacy within national policies, plans and programs. Second, the W.H.O. is expanding its Health Promoting Schools initiative to include health literacy. For this project, I investigated health literacy as a behavior change mechanism in school-based health programs.

Value of experience:

The internship at the WHO headquarters was an experience unlike others. I was placed with a team that was extremely supportive. I appreciated their efforts to challenge me to critically think about the topics I was researching. Working on projects at the WHO also provided me with insight on the collaborative nature of projects being conducted at the international NGO level. Additionally, I believe that the work I was involved with, together with the numerous interns from around the world, fostered a strong summer community, which made for great conversations and meaningful friendships!

Best moment/experience:

It was especially exciting to be an intern at the WHO. this summer during the transition in leadership. Before I started my internship, the new Director General was elected at the World Health Assembly. Therefore, in the middle of my internship, there was a farewell party for the former Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan. For all interns working at the WHO, Dr. Chan is a major celebrity, and spotting her means a picture must be taken with her! At her farewell party, Dr. Chan was flooded with people and it was difficult to get her attention. One of my favorite moments was when my supervisor, who was extremely motivated to get me a picture with Dr. Chan, took my phone and cheered me on as I walked up to Dr. Chan to ask for a picture. Nervous as I was, I was successfully able to lead a group of friends to get pictures taken with her!