Meet the Interns Year-long 2013-14

Meet our new MEDLIFE year-long interns!

2014 - jennifer-clay2Name: Jennifer Clay

Hometown: Syracuse, NY

School: George Washington University

Major: Public Health


Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in Syracuse, NY, where I spent a lot of time playing soccer, skiing, and hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. I then moved to Washington D.C. and went to the George Washington University, where I graduated this past May with a degree in Public Health. My major, along with a semester studying abroad in Chile, helped me realize that after graduation I wanted to work with an organization like Medlife.


My favorite part so far: During my first full week in Lima I worked on a mobile clinic. One afternoon after working on the staircase project, Medlife Peru Director Carlos Benavides took myself and some of the other student volunteers to a community a short walk away. There Carlos was meeting the community for the very first time, to learn about their needs and possibly start working with them. As we were led around the extremely steep slopes that lacked any well-constructed stairs at all, we learned how very difficult daily life was for them. Nevertheless after Carlos explained about Medlife and set a date for us to return and hold a first meeting with them, the women giving us the tour offered us cups of Coke to mark the occasion. As I walked away with a knitted red hat one women had given to me as a gift, I could not believe how lucky I was to be there and see how this process starts.


2014 - Frank-Dawedeit2Name: Frank Dawedeit

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL

School: Johns Hopkins University

Major: Behavioral Biology


Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was introduced to MEDLIFE at the chapter formation in Fall 2010. I was intrigued by MEDLIFE’s threefold approach to helping Latin Americans improve their quality of life. Working with Carlos and Alberto in Peru and Martha in Ecuador was incredibly meaningful, and the dedication of all the local doctors and volunteers made me want to come back. The enormous efforts the communities themselves invested in projects as well as the joy of the kiddies convinced me MEDLIFE was an organization I should work with for an extended period.


What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was startling. I had expected a little community in the hills, but instead encountered a thriving city with plenty of nightly raucous celebration and nightly soda consumption options. From the intimidating airport to the sprawling roads amidst first-rate architecture, I loved my Lima experience and I’m truly privileged to be back for a year. I hope to partner with MEDLIFE for many days ahead and learn as much from the people in the office and field as they doubtless glean from watching him stumble into doorways, walls, etc.


My favorite part so far: I’m a journalist at heart, but also a part-time actor and driver. I’m a Detroit Lions fan but officially hails from Jacksonville, FL. My favorite part of my internship so far is a close race between reuniting with Carlos and driving the Pacific Coast at night with Giancarlo on an empty highway, to the beats of Demi Lovato.


2014 - Hannah-Gillean2Name: Hannah Gillean

Hometown: Devon, Pennsylvania

School: Temple University

Major: Spanish Literature and Urban Studies


Tell us a little bit about yourself: Of the many values that I hold true, I strongly believe that travel is the best education.  Not only can travel expose you to a new language, food, culture or custom, travel opens the mind to a new way of interpreting the world we all share. In the words of Pico Iyer, in Why We Travel, “…Travel spins us round in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty.” For me, travel encourages my mind to manipulate the mundane into something spectacular. It allows me to break the boundary between perception and reality while I engage parts of my brain that I never even knew existed. I see travel as a vehicle to promote understanding, individuality and most of all a global perspective—all of which, I believe, are essential characteristics one must embrace in this ever-evolving world.


What was your first impression of Lima?: Before leaving, I had absolutely no idea of what it would be like to live in Lima, as I had never been to South American before. Now that I have been here for almost a month, I never want to leave. The city of Lima is chaotic, yet rhythmic, massive, and yet intimate. It’s a mix of every emotion possible crammed into a traffic-jammed metropolis along the coast of the Pacific Ocean—there is so much to do and also so many things to discover. On a side note—I am SO looking forward to exploring the gastronomic capital of South America one bite at a time!


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.