Swaziland, Dornsife Global Health
For six weeks this summer, I traveled to Swaziland with the Dornsife Global Development Scholars Program to evaluate the impact of World Vision Swaziland’s HIV Prevention Program. I spent most of my time in Nhlangano, a small town located in the Shiselweni region, where I conducted interviews and focus group discussions with young girls and women enrolled in the program, Youth Facilitators of the program, World Vision staff, and health outreach service partners, such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), and Population Services International (PSI).
I also had the opportunity to attend various health outreach and awareness events aimed at educating all age groups on a wide range of topics, including maternal and newborn child health, HIV and sexual health, and male participation in both. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in Swaziland’s culture, explore the majority of the country and take a weekend getaway trip to Durban, South Africa.
In addition to the program offering a full scholarship, I decided to apply because I wanted to combine my love for global health work, travel, volunteering and research, and take all of these passions one huge step further. The incredible amount of independence is a major difference between this program and others. It allowed me to choose my own project, for which I researched, decided which areas to evaluate, created interview questionnaires, and decided who I needed to interview and when. Furthermore, this experience will test and strengthen your adaptability, optimism, professionalism, and ability to navigate and cope with challenges, as you will need to be both flexible and assertive with your expectations. I can say with certainty that this experience builds your character immensely, both personally and professionally.
Of all of the global health projects, I would definitely choose this again. The immersive experience and qualitative global health research was rewarding and unlike any other program offered. If you are interested in creating your own global health project that involves complete independence, volunteering and researching in an underdeveloped area and gaining a multitude of new perspectives, this program is for you.
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