By AJ Chalom
What does grow mean? To get bigger, to expand your horizons, to impact more people. In the GlobeMed community, GROW means GrassRoots On-site Work. GROW internships serve many purposes, but they are the main face-to-face vehicle that GlobeMed chapters have with their partner communities. Every summer, students from GlobeMed chapters, who have been planning all year, fan out across the world to conduct projects in partner communities. The experiences vary greatly depending on the partnership’s needs and the maturity of the chapter’s relationship with their partner.
No matter how these GROW internships occur, they impact the students, individuals, and communities long into the future. Caroline Nguyen is a GlobeMed “lifer.” She has experienced GlobeMed as a student, as co-president of her UCLA Chapter, as a GROW internship participant, and as a National Office intern. Learn about UCLA’s partnership with Nwoya Youth Center in Anaka, Uganda.
Caroline describes in her own words her summer’s experience and the values she witnessed during her GROW internship:
- Humanity (in terms of kindness, warmth, and unity) exists.
- Partnership is based in respect, trust, honesty, and friendship.
- The work that we do is necessary and irreplaceable.
She writes, “In Anaka, people opened up their homes and hearts to us, welcoming us with open arms and endless love. Walking down the roads, we could expect (and reciprocate) a wave or a greeting of “Apwoyo” (which means pretty much everything — hi, bye, thank you). In the villages, we were invited to eat at every house we came across, whether we had given them forewarning of our arrival or not. Everywhere that we traveled, we were treated with sincere kindness and unfailing love…”
She continues describing her understanding of the partnership created by GlobeMed, GlobeMed at UCLA, and the Nwoya Youth Center: “Partnership is a continuous effort that has its foundations in mutual effort and appreciation. We came to understand the Nwoya Youth Center and the Anaka community much better through open and honest conversations with community members and staff. We learned so much through having simple conversations and connecting personally as well as professionally.”
Caroline realizes the lasting impact of the work she has accomplished, not just on GROW, but in many of her roles with GlobeMed: “The Nwoya Youth Center does truly incredible work. Having seen the community and the resources and knowledge that the residents have (or lack), it was clear to me that the outreaches to schools and condom awareness sessions, among all of the other programs, serve an important purpose. In a country where the HIV+ rate is actually increasing, education may be everything. And education is exactly what the Nwoya Youth Center provides….”
GROW internships connect students with the communities they have been partnering with; they work closely with these communities to create a project that is needed, wanted, and meaningful within the partner community. Every summer, more than 300 student interns participate in GROW internships, with the program continuing to expand. The experience’s impact is long lasting for participants and beneficiaries alike. Caroline’s experience is but one of many.