Zhilian Huang, a research associate in Population Health Epidemiology at Singapore University; Sixtus Akinlosotu, an undergrad at Drexel University College of Medicine; and Daniel Szabo, a graduate student of Public Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center, were with us over April 17–18 as part of a program organized by Child Family Health International (CFHI). A US-based non-profit with Special Consultative Status at the United Nations’ ECOSOC, CFHI conducts experiential learning programs for Medical, Pre-medical and Public Health students from the United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan.
In India, CFHI offers short-term internships that enable international medical students to experience life in India, see how the conventional allopathic system works here, observe how medical training is conducted in a developing country, and explore our ancient systems of medicine. Students may also volunteer in villages and slums in the areas of health, grassroots development and education.
Zhilian described her time with us as “fulfilling” as it gave her the chance to participate in different types of therapy sessions at the Child Development Center (CDC) and utilize her research skills by contributing to a program evaluation. “LRF provides a loving environment for children with special needs to learn and rehabilitate. The special educators, therapists and support staff are dedicated to their work and welcoming of diversity. I will take back the wonderful experience and apply the newly-learnt Hindi phrases for the rest of my time in India,” she said.
Sixtus was impressed by the “respect and warmth” that permeates LRF culture. Regretful about having only two days with us, he said, “I was truly happy to interact with the staff. They made me feel important, appreciated and accepted despite how different I am ethnically, culturally and in appearance. It makes sense, because in a society where people with disabilities are looked down upon, we need amazing people like them to lead by example, show us that all people are owed respect and compassion, and that we all have strengths, weaknesses, aspirations, shortcomings and amazing potential. All we need is for people to see these things in us. At LRF, they definitely do,” he said.
Thank you, Sixtus, Zhilian and Daniel – we hope your Indian experience is a happy and enriching one!