Any of my close friends and family can tell you that the months leading up to my departure for Lima were characterized by multiple mini-existential crises; although I’m a fairly spontaneous person, the more I thought about it, the crazier it seemed to pick up my life and move to another country on my own for a year. Everyone around me was incredibly supportive, but always with an air of skepticism–was this really what I should be doing with my life at this point?
At the same time, I knew there would be a moment in which all of the worry and anxiety became worth it, a moment in which I was certain that I had made the right decision in moving to Peru. Luckily, that realization occurred much quicker than I had anticipated.
Before we started our internship, we had a weeklong training period with all of the staff in which we learned about the MEDLIFE mission and how each facet of the organization contributes to the overall picture. Although I was involved with my MEDLIFE chapter in college, I was amazed by everything I was learning. While we were listening to our founder Nick Ellis speak, I paused and looked around the room. The audience, the driving force behind MEDLIFE, consisted of individuals from all over the world with diverse backgrounds, interests, and skill sets. Seeing all these incredible people gathered in one place for one purpose, I immediately felt that I was a part of something bigger than myself, a feeling that is both intimidating and comforting. All my previous worries “se fue” and I dived in head first into my year with MEDLIFE.
Even though I came here by myself, I’ve never felt alone. I have found that friendship emerges easily between people who share a passion (even if you also share a kitchen). It is really incredible to be able to stand alongside my housemates and friends, the same people I eat breakfast with every morning, and accomplish amazing things together. This picture was taken at the end of a long day spent tossing bricks up a hillside to begin construction on a house for Soledad, one of our patients, and her son JosÃ©. They were both there alongside us the entire day, giving us water and Inka Cola, chatting with us during breaks, and constantly expressing their gratitude.
There is still a lot to accomplish before the big inauguration and move-in. Although I wish we could simply snap our fingers and finish the project, part of me muses that every home should be constructed this way–piece by piece. True ownership springs from physical investment in a project and active presence each step of the way. At the end of the day, even though I was just a link in a long chain of MEDLIFE staff, interns, and community members, I have never felt so accomplished and, again, part of something bigger. I strive to apply this same mentality to my internship with MEDLIFE as a whole; no task is minute, no role is insignificant.