Career goal: Work on research and programs to better understand how culture influences health.
Internship outline: This internship had three components: 1) community health education about HIV and other STIs; 2) HIV testing in the Manglaralto Hospital and regional subcentros; and 3) completing an investigation on barriers to HIV testing. Magdalena focused primarily on the research project, which aimed to provide Manglaralto Hospital with some basic descriptive epidemiological data on prevalence of risk factors for HIV, levels of HIV knowledge, and rates of HIV testing.
Value of experience: Working with the Manglaralto Hospital taught me how to adjust research protocols and expectations to fit within another country’s health system and culture. Teaching in the local high schools and the HIV testing campaigns allowed me to practice sharing health information across cultural and language barriers.
Best moment/experience: My favorite moments of the summer were the unexpected conversations with people I was surveying—discussions about their relationships, about their community or mine and about their experiences with health and illness. I feel incredibly lucky for those brief connections with members of the community that allowed me to better understand Ecuadorian culture and health care.