Peru Intern Journal: Carolyn - MEDLIFE

Peru Intern Journal: Carolyn


Summer Intern Carolyn Adam writes about her experience planning and delivering a presentation on nutrition in Lima, Peru:

I can’t believe I have already been here in Peru for almost two months. The beginning of my trip was such a blur as I went straight from my last final of the semester to the airport the next day, and then the participants for the first Mobile Clinic of the summer arrived in Peru two days later. After seven weeks and four Mobile Clinics I can say I am pretty comfortable in my role as a MEDLIFE intern. Then there are those times when I am not so confident, like on June 27, when some of the other interns (Savannah and Maureen) and I presented on general nutrition tips in a health workshop in Pamplona.

We had put together the presentation after interviewing women on their family’s eating habits during the previous week’s Mobile Clinic. The presentation focused on feasible changes families could make in their diets to become healthier. These recommendations included trying to only eat one carbohydrate source with each meal (instead of eating both rice and potatoes, which is the norm in Peru); increasing the amount of lean proteins, such as fish and lentils, in their diets; and trying to cut down on the amount of unhealthy snacks they buy during the day (something I am definitely guilty of).

The girls and I had worked hard on our presentation, but I was still nervous about making diet recommendations to a group of people I didn’t know, especially in Spanish! Out of all the interns, I can definitively say I have the least experience speaking Spanish, having only taken one semester of Spanish over a year ago. I was afraid no one would understand what I was saying, or worse, I would freeze up in front of the 30 people that attended our presentation if I could not think of the word for something.

87-2-Carolyn-JournalI could not have been more wrong. The community members were so welcoming and gracious and actively participated in our presentation. At the end, the girls and I passed around a healthy “bocadito” we made that was a fresh vegetable mix, and everyone really enjoyed that. My favorite part of the experience was after the presentation, when everyone wanted to find their BMI. We had brought scales and measuring tape, along with BMI charts, and explained how BMI can help gauge whether or not you are at a healthy weight. The community members who attended the workshop were so proactive about weighing and measuring themselves, and then learning how to read the BMI chart so they could be more informed about the state of their health.

For me, the most rewarding part of being a MEDLIFE intern is interacting with the members of the communities we work with. I love that I keep getting opportunities to grow and do things that I would never have done before, like giving a health presentation in a (very) foreign language. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the summer has in store!