Leah Thi Le
Career goal: Become a physician and public health practitioner working in the field of HIV prevention.
Internship outline: Leah worked with the Center for Supporting Community Development Initiatives in Hanoi, Vietnam to evaluate the working relationship between governmental agencies and community-based organizations (CBOs) for drug users and sex workers. These marginalized groups are among the driving forces of HIV transmission in the country; therefore, there is a high demand for outreach programs, like the CBOs, to educate these at-risk individuals on safe health care practices. The sole funders for these CBOs are withdrawing from Vietnam. Thus, for these CBOs to continue social work in HIV prevention, the Vietnamese government will need to step in.
Value of experience: Through talking and learning from the personal experiences of the former drug users and sex workers, I gained valuable insight to inter-personal communication that I would not have attained through everyday conversation with family, friends and teachers. I hope to use this practicum as a bridge to connect me with future projects in Vietnam in the arena of health promotion and community development.
Best moment/experience: I thoroughly enjoyed traveling to the northern and southern regions of Vietnam to conduct the interviews. Not only did I get to talk with people from various backgrounds, but I also had the opportunity to see the contrasting cultures in the two poles of the country.