Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Thoughts by Returning Intern Alicia Majeau

By Alicia Majeau

As a returning 2011 Healthy Villages intern, I am amazed at how much has changed in a year, yet how much is still the same. To begin with, my name is Alicia Majeau, and I am an incoming Master’s student in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduating with my undergraduate degree in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2011, I came to Uganda last summer, entirely unaware of what to expect. My travel experience had been limited to North America and Europe, and I had never been anywhere in the developing world. Although it was the most difficult thing I had ever done, it also turned out to be the best experience I had ever had, and being part of the support team for Bunio village was a truly life-changing experience. That being said, as fortunate as I felt to be able to return in the summer of
2012, I found that I was still faced with anxiety and trepidation in the weeks leading up
to my departure.

Returning to Uganda felt more like coming home than I ever expected it to, but coming back as the administrative team leader for Kidaago B presented a world of new hopes, expectations, and fears for the upcoming summer. I did not think the role of team leader would feel differently than that of intern, but already, I find myself feeling the weight of added responsibility. The village and living arrangements are also novel compared to my time in Bunio last year. I am both very excited about this and somewhat nervous. For starters, Kidaago is a new village that UVP has not previously worked in. I am anxious to see how this compares to my time in a support village last summer and hopeful that it will result in more interest in our programming than I found in Bunio, not a hostile reception. Our house is also shared with a UVP team working in Kidaago A, so instead of a house of six, we have a compound of ten. I’m glad to have the chance to interact closely and collaborate with even more interns on a daily basis this summer, and hope it will lead to more work but not more conflict. The group of interns that we have this year, though, seems to be a wonderful assortment of people with lots of experience in many relevant areas, and I am looking forward to working with all of them and seeing the further impact that UVP’s Healthy Villages program has.

Friday June 8th, the team leaders visited Kidaago for the first time. Meeting with the village chairman, who is also the deputy head teacher of the primary school and the Village Health Team members made me very optimistic for the work we will accomplish.

Everyone seemed enthusiastic to have us coming, and a brief discussion of some health issues that the village experiences led me to believe that UVP’s programming can definitely have a positive impact here. Currently, we are staying in a guest house in Iganga for orientation, and while I am having a ton of fun meeting new friends and preparing for our time, I am eager to move into the village and start pursuing the end goal of said positive impact. Although there will absolutely be challenges ahead, I could not be more excited about the upcoming months!

Alicia Majeau is an incoming graduate student in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She interned with UVP in 2011 and returned this summer to serve as an Administrative Team Leader in Kidaago B village. 

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