I’m Gaby Borja and I’m going to be working at Aravind Eye Care Systems in Madurai this summer! I’m currently a rising sophomore in the College but I am in the process of transferring into the Engineering School to major in Bioengineering.
I was born in Manila, Philippines and I spent my whole life there. My favorite sport is soccer. I started playing when I was four years old and I have loved playing the beautiful game ever since. I was fortunate enough to “walk on” last fall and be a part of Penn’s Men’s Soccer Varsity Team. I’m very interested in medicine and health care, although I’m not yet sure if I want to commit myself to the long and arduous road of becoming a doctor.
I had a wonderful time in my first year at Penn and I’m glad I get to top off the whole school year with this trip to India. I had my last exam on May 7 and I flew out to the Philippines on May 8 to spend a week with my family and friends back home. I basically spent the week spending some much needed quality time with my family, hanging out with friends, and rediscovering the comforts of Filipino food! However, my summer could have started on a more sour note had it not been for some clutch play from Aparna! As you can see from her post below, I almost wasn’t able to leave the States because I didn’t have my passport! I was aware that I had given my passport to the Indian Embassy for visa processing but it only occurred to me a few days before my flight home that I still had not received my passport. That’s when I panicked like crazy!!! I desperately called the Indian Embassy to try and figure out the status of my visa. I also sent out distress emails to Aparna explaining my situation. This hectic predicament coupled with the overly stressful last-ditch studying I was doing for my Biology 121 Final made for some nail-biting stuff! Thankfully, it all came through in the end. I made it out of my exam in one piece and Aparna handed me my passport thirty minutes before the check-in counter closed! Crazy stuff! And I hadn’t even set foot in India…
I thoroughly enjoyed my freshman year at Penn and I expect this summer to be filled with more clutch plays and crazier adventures! One of the main reasons I’m excited for this summer is getting the opportunity to work at a great organization like Aravind. Aravind’s mission is to eliminate needless blindness by providing appropriate, compassionate and high quality eye care to all. The history of Aravind and its philosophy of blending compassion and efficiency is truly inspiring.
I’m also really excited to work with Aravind because India is very similar to the Philippines. There are so many preventable diseases in both these developing countries. Proper primary health care and basic medical attention can improve and save millions of lives. This summer, one of the big questions I’ll be asking is whether Aravind’s model can work in the Philippines as well as other countries. The factory line work ethic of their staff is a huge reason for Aravind’s success. As such, I’m very curious as to how Aravind maximizes its efficiency and increases its output in spite of the huge number of patients coming in every day. I’m also looking forward to finally getting some work experience and start learning more about medicine and health care. Right now, I really have no idea how I want to make an impact. Should I go into medicine as a one-on-one type of doctor, as a researcher, or as a hospital administrator? All these questions litter my thoughts as I’m constantly searching for signs that can point me to the right direction. By being able to see first hand how the finest healthcare in India is delivered, I hope to settle my doubts and forge a more concrete path for my career. I hope that the unique experience of an internship with Aravind can help align my thoughts and help me figure out the best way to change people’s lives for the better.
Lastly, I’m excited to travel and see some breathtaking sights and sounds. I visited Delhi two years ago and I had an absolute blast immersing myself in the unique Indian culture. This time around, I hope to explore the beauty of the South and see India from a different angle.
All the best,
This blog post is a bit late because I was supposed to post this before I arrived in India. Right now, I’m already safe and sound in Madurai after spending a few days in Delhi. This blog post is also a tad too long so I’ll be talking about the couple of days I spent in Delhi with the other interns as well as my first impressions of Madurai and Aravind in the next blog post!
Here’s a picture of me and my two little brothers!