Meet the Interns Summer 2016 part 2 - MEDLIFE

Meet the Interns Summer 2016 part 2


Name: Chris Johnson

Hometown: New York City

School: Queens College

Major: Neuroscience with a Minor in Chemistry

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I discovered MEDLIFE at my school’s club fair at the beginning of Freshman year. I was an active member of our chapter throughout my first semester and decided to attend my first Mobile Clinic in Cusco, Peru over the following winter break. Experiencing my first Mobile Clinic instilled in me a fervent passion for global health that continues to drive many of my endeavors today.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born and raised in the borough of Queens in New York City. I am a drummer and I enjoy creating and listening to music. A non-work goal of mine during my stay in Lima is to become proficient at dancing salsa. I love traveling, going to New York Mets games and watching Game of Thrones. I aspire to become a medical doctor working in global health. I have the hearing ability of a 75-year-old former jackhammer operator.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: To say I was changed by my first Mobile Clinic would be a vast understatement. I gained a new global perspective that drastically altered my entire college career and will likely affect my path in medicine. After attending my first MEDLIFE trip, I became significantly more involved with my chapter and went on to be elected as chapter President for my Sophomore year. Subsequent to completing my first semester as chapter President and attending a second Mobile Clinic in Lima, I realized that serving as an E-Board member and attending trips simply was not enough for me. I had finally found an organization whose mission and operations I fell in love with, and I wanted to dedicate more of my life to furthering its extraordinary initiative.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Surprisingly, it reminded me of home! From the diverse seasonal weather to the taxi drivers who have seemingly no regard for pedestrian safety, it reminded me of the hustle and bustle of New York City. My enamored state was soon brought to a halt as I learned more about the socio-political divide plaguing Lima. I was heartbroken upon seeing and conducting more research on Lima’s poorest communities and the infamous “Wall of Shame.” After undergoing such eye opening experiences and realizing that I had the platform to help make a difference, I was compelled to return to Lima in the summer and make a greater contribution to the MEDLIFE movement.

What are your goals for this internship?: I look forward to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of global health and where I belong in the field. After my experiences with MEDLIFE to this point, I cannot imagine excluding global medical and developmental initiatives from my professional life. I hope to have the opportunity to practice medicine in developing regions around the world.


Name: Sarah Shawky

Hometown: Oakville, Ontario, Canada

School: McMaster University

Major: Biomedical Discovery & Commerce – B.H.Sc & Accelerated Masters 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: In September 2015, I noticed the MEDLIFE information stand at my university club fair. I had a friend who had volunteered at a Mobile Clinic in Lima before, and she would always tell me what an amazing and different experience she had working alongside other students and staff with common motivations. I decided to take a risk, join the MEDLIFE community and be actively involved as much as I could to gain a better understanding of health care in developing countries and to learn about different cultures. I found myself opening my eyes to the broad spectrum of opportunity and optimism shared by MEDLIFE and its participants and could not wait to become a part of the team in action. Now, here I am in Peru, ready to start and never stop.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am an outgoing and spontaneous university student trying to figure out her life and what she would like to do. However, as of right now, I reside in Canada, I am of Egyptian background and I love to help people. I love to teach, learn, laugh and I know that I would like to become an oral surgeon – I believe in smiles. You are most likely to find me trying to brush the tangles out of my frizzy hair, taking pictures, drinking tea at a new hidden cafe discovered online, eating ridiculous amounts of sushi or indoor rock climbing. 

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I decided to become an intern with MEDLIFE because I knew that my long-term goal was to be involved in the medical field, and more specifically, I knew that working with an NGO that provides healthcare in developing countries would help me solidify this goal. One of my greatest past times is photo editing and capturing moments that I would love to remember forever. Sharing memories and promoting global awareness among my family and friends has always been important to me, so I decided that spending my summer as a Communications Social Media Intern with MEDLIFE would be amazing and that I would definitely learn so much!

What was your first impression of Lima?: My first impression of Lima was that it was so awake and lively at night! I arrived very late and was surprised to see the entire city still lit up and alive! I also fell in love with the light heartedness of the locals and the colourful architecture. I´ve also learnt to appreciate the one and a half days of sunshine that appears in Lima, per week. 

What are your goals for this internship?: Throughout my internship, I hope to be able to broaden my understanding of global health and awareness, contribute to the communities in need, learn some Spanish and successfully portray the face of MEDLIFE through my social media contributions. I plan to leave with an accurate vision of what goes on in Lima in order to project this same perspective onto people back home. I hope to be able to make connections with other fellow interns and to inspire, teach and encourage others to become actively involved with MEDLIFE as well! Oh, and I hope to be able to successfully cross the road to the grocery store without looking like a foreigner running for her life. 


Name: Ifelola Ojuri

Hometown: Cambridge, England

School: University of Southern California

Major: Health & Humanity B.A., Accelerated Master of Public Health

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I was browsing the Internet looking for internships for the summer when I stumbled across MEDLIFE’s page.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a rising senior at the University of Southern California (Fight On!), but raised in Cambridge England. My spirit animal is a giraffe, specifically the tea-drinking species. I’m pretty tall, incredibly clumsy and have super long legs.  In my spare time I drink and blog about tea; just imagine a giraffe with a top hat, sipping tea and exploring the world – that is me.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: MEDLIFE’s mission and sustainable practices are what ultimately drew me to the internship. Every nonprofit is unique, and I wanted an opportunity to learn more about what makes MEDLIFE different and what they plan to continue in the future. Interning at MEDLIFE will allow me to see firsthand the intersection between global public heath and community development and whether or not I would like to pursue something like this in the future. “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have”. – Margaret Mead

What was your first impression of Lima?: Lima is loud, bustling and diverse. From the terrain to the food, there’s a lot to explore. Also, each time you attempt to cross the road will be a near death experience.

What are your goals for this internship?: To come away with a more holistic view of the global public health sector, and the social justice issues that are currently happening in Peru. To fully understand communicate MEDLIFE’s mission both passionately and effectively. To have a renewed sense of understanding of how the interconnectedness of social issues is both of benefit and hindrance in closing the inequality gap. To gain transferrable skills, which I can use both when I return home and beyond.  


supporters12Name: Yash Diwan

Hometown: Brampton, Ontario

School: McMaster University

Major: Health Sciences with Global Health Specialization 

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: To tell the truth, I was not actually involved with MEDLIFE in any way, shape, or form before this internship. One of my friends from school shared their experiences at a Mobile Clinic on facebook and said that it was a life changing experience. I decided to do a little more research, and, once on the MEDLIFE website, I found out that I could apply for an internship. I was already on the website, so I figured, why not? Small things, like a facebook post, can lead to significant changes in one’s life. Now, I have the opportunity to travel, immerse myself in different cultures, and be a part of something that really makes a difference, all because of a facebook post. Also, I will be joining McMaster’s MEDLIFE chapter as an Expansion Officer next year and I am excited to continue my journey with MEDLIFE after this internship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in India and my family moved around quite a bit before we finally settled in Canada. I just finished my first year at McMaster University in the Health Sciences program and am planning on specializing in global health next year. I love reading, and am one of the very few people who actually signs books out at my school library (I don’t know why it’s called a library if nobody reads any of the books in it). I almost exclusively listen to hip-hop, but have recently tried to expand my musical taste and have started listening to a little bit of reggae and jazz. An interesting fact about me is that I played the trombone in middle school, but I almost never practiced. During class, I would just pretend that I was playing and my music teacher, Mr. Kershaw, never realized that I didn’t actually know how to play any of the songs. Unfortunately, after a year and a half, I got caught and I got kicked out of the band. All good things come to an end. Another thing about me is that I love asking questions, and those who know me know that I do not shy away from saying what’s on my mind. This can be both a gift and a curse, and I am still figuring out how to deal with this side of my personality.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: I think that this internship is an excellent way for me to expand my horizons, meet new people, and help an organization which truly embodies my core values. I believe that we, as human beings, have the responsibility to love one another and help each other as much as we can. I think that there is more that unites us than separates us, and I believe that MEDLIFE is an organization that truly represents these beliefs. Being a MEDLIFE intern is definitely going to help me learn a lot about myself, and will allow me to hone some very important skills. Apart from allowing me to contribute to sustainable development and Mobile Clinics, I think that this internship will arm me with the tools and information I need, to make an impact in McMaster’s MEDLIFE chapter. I hope that I can apply the skills I acquire through this internship into my local community, so that I can be a part of a positive change.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Traffic. Honking. Shouting. Confusion. Everything in Lima moves so quickly, and there is so much to see. Going somewhere you have never been is always exciting, and I am trying to soak all of it up as much as I can. It’s the little details that make a city what it is, and it’s very important to pick up on these little details. Initially, going out to buy groceries or getting the laundry done was a little daunting, but as I am getting to know the city and the language a little better, I am becoming more comfortable with it. I am very excited to continue learning about Lima and (hopefully) getting a little better at Spanish. 

What are your goals for this internship?: My biggest goal for this internship is to explore. I want to see as much as I can, and I want to meet as many people as I can. I also want to contribute to the communities in Lima and make as big of an impact as I can. I hope that my time here will not only allow me to help MEDLIFE and the local communities, but will also push me to acquire new skills and will give me the opportunity for self-development.


Name: Elisa Gomez

Hometown: Clearwater, Florida

School: Florida State University

Major: Family and Child Sciences

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I became involved with the MEDLIFE chapter at my university as a college freshman in 2013. Throughout my first semester in school, I was introduced to the MEDLIFE mission and I was drawn to it immediately. It was clear how much of an impact this organization was making globally, and I wanted to be a part of it! It was not long before I packed my bags and headed for Esmeraldas, Ecuador for my first Mobile Clinic.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Medellin, Colombia where lived until I was four. In the year 2000, my family immigrated to the United States in hopes of a better future and a chance at an education for my sister and I. Now, 16 years later, I will be going into my last year of undergrad this August and I plan on pursuing a master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies soon after. I enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures and their beliefs. My passion for equal access to health and education for all individuals has pushed me out of my comfort zone, allowing me explore these human rights in a variety of different countries. Oh, if I’m not traveling, studying or being a homebody, you can usually find me eating. I LOVE food and chocolate, too!

Why did you decide to become an intern?: As a MEDLIFE volunteer I was able to learn a lot about how the clinics were run. After hearing so many stories from the patients and their families, I could not help but to wonder “what now?”. I knew that as a MEDPrograms intern I would be able to finally answer this question by visiting patients alongside the doctors and nurses and participate in MEDLIFE follow-up service visits. I knew that interning for MEDLIFE would be such a wonderful opportunity because we all share one common goal, and that is to ensure that medicine, education and development are perceived as human rights.

What was your first impression of Lima?: When I first arrived in Lima all I could think was “Finally I can escape the Florida heat!”

What are your goals for this internship?: This summer I hope to get a lot of field experience which will allow for me to understand the role that MEDLIFE plays in the patients journey towards a healthier future. On a more personal note, I know that this internship will allow me the opportunity to grow as an individual. I want to absorb all that I learn throughout my time here in Lima in order to return home and share with my friends, family and university chapter the impact that MEDLIFE had not only on the patients, but on myself as well!

supporters9Name: Riley Hess

Hometown: Allen, Texas

School: University of Kansas

Major: Psychology

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I got involved with MEDLIFE during my freshman year of college when our chapter president visited my class to talk about an upcoming trip to Ecuador.  I’d wanted to get involved in an organization like MEDLIFE and to take a trip like this one for quite some time, so I signed up the next day.  After an amazing experience in Ecuador, I applied for executive board and served on the fundraising team and as fundraising chair for the following two semesters.  This next year I will serve as Mobile Clinics officer for our chapter.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I grew up in a northern suburb of Dallas, Texas, and went out of state to KU to study psychology.  I am very interested in research in the psychology field and plan to continue on into a PhD program to study to become a clinical psychologist.  I also love Spanish, art (primarily painting), plants, and traveling to new places.  I have been involved in a variety of service projects and love to serve others.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: To get a more hands-on experience with MEDLIFE and to learn about what goes on behind the scenes, to bring back knowledge that will help our chapter thrive, to gain a global perspective, and more generally because MEDLIFE’s mission is something that is close to my heart.  Being an intern has been a goal of mine since my first MEDLIFE trip. Volunteering is an incredible experience, but I chose this internship so that I could do summer-long work to bring much needed resources to areas experiencing poverty in the field while helping to improve the program from the office.  

What was your first impression of Lima?:  My first impression was “I can’t wait to explore!”.  There are always people walking around this busy city and there is plenty to do. And the food is great, which is always a plus. I hope I have time to see all the sights in this lively city.

What are your goals for this internship?:  As much as I want to say my goal is to make a difference, I know that real change takes time, so my goal is to be a part of that positive change.  I also hope to learn the language and about Peruvian culture.

supporters3Name: Thomas O’Neill

Hometown: Bradford, UK.

School: University of the West of England

Major: Politics & International Relations

How I got involved with MEDLIFE: I actually stumbled across an advertisement for the MEDLIFE Film & Photography internship whilst scrolling down my Facebook news feed earlier this year. Upon doing some additional research into the goals and values of MEDLIFE I decided to apply, never expecting to actually get shortlisted for an interview. Two skype interviews later I was offered the internship and, before I knew it, found myself flying out to Lima for the summer.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I have a passion for filmmaking and video journalism. I enjoy most sports and love travelling. Back home I have a dog called Miko and a cat called Tibbs, both of whom are very mischievous.  

Why did you decide to become an intern?: Pursuing a degree in Politics & International Relations has enabled me to study the world in a lot more depth than I previoiusly have at any point in my life, since the suffering of those elsewhere in the world due to poverty is often a main topic of discussion in both lectures and seminars. Because of this, I have developed a strong interest in the work of non-profit organizations in general, as well as in the deeper social and economic issues at play throughout the communities in need of such assistance. Having been brought up in the UK with access to good health care and education, I feel somewhat obliged to do what I can to help people without similar access to such services. After all, no one chooses to be born into poverty. An internship at MEDLIFE is, therefore, the perfect opportunity to do something worthwhile for the impoverished communities here in Peru whilst also gaining valuable experience in a field I may well want to pursue a career in, upon graduating from university.

What was your first impression of Lima?: Strange, chaotic and exciting are all words that immediately spring to mind. The crazy taxi ride to the intern house from the airport in Lima was an experience I will never forget. I remember feeling a real sense of adventure, a feeling I hadn’t had since setting off to travel around South East Asia back in January 2014. So far, the Peruvian people have been very friendly, the food has been great and the weather has not too bad either!

What are your goals for this internship?: To combine the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout my university studies with the experience I have in Film & Photography to raise awareness of the MEDLIFE mission and to benefit the communities that MEDLIFE is here to help. I can only hope that the photos and videos I’ll create during my time here will truly represent the values of the organization, hopefully inspire other interns to get involved, help MEDLIFE to further expand and continue to help the communities that need it the most.

supporters14Name: Sarah Bridge

Hometown: Oxford

School: University of Bath

Major: Modern Languages (Spanish and Italian) with ‘minors’ in Politics, Literature and History.

How I got involved with MEDLIFE?: As a languages student I am forced to spend a year of my uni course living abroad, experiencing the culture and eating the food of the countries that speak the languages I am learning- it’s a tough life.  I found out about MEDLIFE as I knew I wanted to do something to do with media in South America and was also keen to get the opportunity to work with an NGO.  MEDLIFE fitted in suspiciously well with all that I wanted to do and so I immediately applied for the position of journalism intern and was ecstatic when I was told I’d got it!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: As one of 3 Brits living in the MEDLIFE house at the moment I have been keen to keep up the stereotype by drinking copious amounts of tea, not understanding people when they talk about their ‘schools’, ‘elevators’ and ‘cilantro’ and speaking with a weird accent.  My experience in Lima so far has been different to any experience I have had before but I am loving every minute.

Why did you decide to become an intern?: The description of the Media internships here sounded almost too good to be true and for some reason I have been surprised to find out that the actual job is even better than what was described.  It is amazing to be able to do something that I enjoy so much and that enables me to learn so much and still holds benefit for the community I am working with!

What was your first impression of Lima?: Loud and very crazy.  The bus system here has got to be my favorite part of the city as despite being completely mental, it somehow makes more sense than the ‘well thought out’ British system.  I am also in love with the food here and have ended up having the menu of the day from a local restaurant almost every lunch time.  It becomes worryingly easy to justify this kind of extravagance by thinking 11 soles is only 3 dollars which is only 2 pounds…

What are your goals for this internship?: The dream would be to become so fluent in Spanish and Peruvian culture that I get mistaken for a native by the end of my time here.  However, I have been told that my blond hair may give me away so instead it looks like I am just going to have to settle for the ability to ride the buses like a local.