2018 PFIG Recipient Alyson Lee

Alyson Lee – June 30th, 2018

Alyson Lee

2018 PFIG Winner
Alyson Lee
Major: Global Public Health & English
UVA 2020

Internship: Unite For Sight, New Haven, CT

Read about my internship

Journal Entry #1

When I was little, I had a grand dream of working in an office one day. While other little kids played “House,” I would play “Office” and pretend to answer phones at a desk. I fantasized about scheduling my life around that 9-5 and having my own cubicle adorned with pictures of my doting husband and children.

After my fourth week with Unite for Sight-- a global health non-profit based in New Haven-- I’m proud to say my childhood dream has come true (minus doting husband and kids). Each day,  I walk to a tall, glistening office building in the heart of New Haven, Connecticut. I have my own desk, there’s a perpetually full pot of coffee in the kitchen, and I’ve slowly been compiling a stash of “work shoes” that I leave at the office so I can slip on more practical slippers for the walk home.

Unlike my childhood games though, I do far more than answering phones. Overall, Unite for Sight works towards equitable global health care with a focus on sustainability and local empowerment. They work tirelessly to make sure their workers are actually listening to the needs of the community rather than entering with ethnocentric notions of what is best. On the day-to-day, Unite for Sight sends out volunteers to their partner clinics in India, Ghana, and Honduras. They also offer online courses in topics ranging from Community Development to Refugee Health. Unite for Sight’s big endeavor is hosting an annual Global Health and Innovation Conference at Yale. Arguably the largest global health conference around, GHIC not only brings in physicians and public health experts but social entrepreneurs, non-profit managers, financial analysts, educators, authors, and more.

As an intern so far, I’ve worked on several different projects. Unite for Sight sends out volunteers to conduct research for their partner clinics. I then analyze these data sets and create a concise, informative summary to send back to the clinics. I’ve also helped grade certificate programs, exposing me to a wide range of topics. Before this internship, I had no idea what social entrepreneurship was or how it could be related to global health. After reading through the course myself though, I am encouraged by how diverse the global health care field is where even local businesses can have a huge impact on healthcare. I’ve also helped prepare for the Global Health and Innovation Conference by researching and evaluating potential speakers. This too has exposed me to the diverse array of professionals that fall under the global health umbrella.

Along with these more day-to-day projects, I have been working on editing and updating the specific online courses themselves—specifically a course in “Cultural Competency.” This course is mandatory for all volunteers and overviews the highs and lows of culture shock and the necessity of being culturally humble while overseas. Personally, it’s actually been very helpful. I spent a significant portion of my life overseas in Kenya. I wasn’t fully prepared for the throes of culture shock both in going to Kenya and coming back home to the States. Reading through the symptoms of culture shock and how to mediate them has been comforting for my own cultural journey.

All in all, it’s been a whirlwind learning the ropes of the daily non-profit grind. My favorite thing about this internship is that it’s showing me that anything is possible in global health care. As a pre-med, I’ve often worried about sacrificing my love for writing or graphic design for the sake of medicine. This internship has shown me that not only are those skills useful, but they can actually have a lot of crucial impact in global healthcare. While in Kenya, I saw first-hand a lot of the disparities in health care. It was easy to be disheartened and cynical about the future. Working with Unite for Sight has given me renewed hope for global healthcare. All to say...I’m excited for the weeks to come!

Journal Entry #2

more information coming soon...

Journal Entry #3

more information coming soon...