Rachel is a recent graduate from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is barely five days into her media internship at MEDLIFE Ecuador in Riobamba. So far, the Jersey native has spent her time battling the dusty mountain tops of Guamote for photos of an upcoming school project, roaming the communities of the coast on a scouting mission, and identifying patient stories for compelling video footage. Now, let’s get some background on our newest addition to MEDLIFE’s communications team:
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I grew up in one of the many suburbs of New Jersey shore. From a young age, I always enjoyed bothering people with questions about their lives and scribbling it down. I am stubbornly and strictly interested in documenting the human condition, mainly for social justice purposes. Though I am a visual storyteller, I hardly take photographs when not on the job.
How did you get involved with MEDLIFE?
I found MEDLIFE through a job posting the website, idealist.org. As a recent graduate of journalism school with a good dose of wanderlust, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to use my media skills for a good cause while learning about the health care concerns of an entirely different region of the world.
What was your first impression of Riobamba?
I arrived in Riobamba at 2 AM, so therefore my first impression was “dark.” However, the next morning I was pleasantly surprised to see the thin outlines of mountains beyond the city’s borders. I’ve never seen more places to grab a quick meal of roasted chicken. I quite like the winding streets. I find the howls of stray dogs in the evening less favorable.
What do you like most about being an intern?
I like the open-ended possibility. Right now, I am not quite sure of where we desire to direct our media efforts here in Ecuador since I am the first longer-term media intern, and am enjoying the brainstorming process. I also am enjoying the excuse to follow anyone around at any given time on important business.
Tell us an anecdote from your experience with MEDLIFE thus far:
When we traveled to Esmeraldas, a small city on the coast, this past week, I met a girl while taking photographs of her community. She was thin and tall with a high pony tail of tightly curled black hair. She asked if I was taking photos, and I said yes. She told me she was 14 and lived in the house behind us. I attempted to chat with her in my broken spanish and she didn’t seem to mind. She looked me straight in the eyes and didn’t even seem to mind that I was pretty much the epitome of an outsider in her neighborhood. My first instinct was to take a photo of her, but it didn’t feel right. I think it’s important to see other people as just that — people — especially when you are outside of your element.
How do you think the internship will help you with your future plans / career?
I am hoping that this internship will provide me with more life experience in connecting with people entirely different than myself and continue to grow my media skills in foreign reporting.