A Project is Born…and 20 years ago, I was too.

Riding on the back of motorcycles around the winding roads escalating to the heights of the Chirag Hospital are adventures of their own! However, I want to announce the personal and academic adventure that will guide my summer at Chirag. I will be focusing on water-borne diseases and the burden of illness. I will be exploring preventive health seeking behavior, the prevalence of water borne diseases, perceived causes of illness, and the cost of preventive medicine versus treatment, including medical expenditures as well as earnings and opportunity costs lost. After many takes at the drawing board, my title, for now, reads, “The Economic and Personal Burden of Water-Borne Diseases: A Study on the Cost of Preventive Medicine Versus the Cost of Disease.” The Health and Societies preparation is proving to be extremely handy and every day I find myself thinking back to papers, books, lectures, and conversations with classmates and professors.

And what a sweet place to have birthday and what sweet, crazy, and fun friends to enjoy it with! In the past weeks, we’ve developed an explosive dynamic with the various interns from different parts of India and around the world. I’m pretty sure we’re long lost cousins whom the universe conspired to unite at one point in time and space, and it was now.

I’m pretty low-key with birthdays, especially since they’re always during summer vacation, and I never know what to expect, but this one was out of my hands. Rhagav, Gorav, Shishir, Shagun, Shobana, Lara, Jason, and Alex took over with a few phone calls, treks, and conversations and arranged an entertaining dinner at a place whose motto is “Find Peace at the Valley Unwind.” How could we not venture in? The after-party unwinded to be a mix of zen and wild and with that I bridged into the 20’s with many unexpected stories and photographs. My advice, hire them as party planners and head over to the mountains for your next special occassion! I also want to thank them publicly (which they may have or have not requested), for their amazing efforts and success in planning and celebrating my birthday! These are the best long-lost relatives I could ever ask for.

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Finally, I’d like to close off with some lessons I wrote in a letter to myself.

⦁ “Your greatest gift is behind your greatest fear.” -TUT. Be afraid. Pursue the goals, adventures, and relationships that scare you. Are you out of your comfort zone? Launched, pulled, lulled? Are you doubting yourself so much you don’t think you can do it? Let the impossible scare you. Learn to fear but proceed anyway. Yes, you can learn to avert fear altogether, but in the meantime, pursue it because that is how you overcome it.

⦁ Do the right thing, under any circumstance. I know, it’s hard, but think about what happens when you don’t? Who has to pay for it? To whom have you averted the consequence?

⦁ Forgive. Forgive unconditionally. This takes a lot of love, a lot of compassion, a lot of mercy. Even if no one asks for forgiveness, provide it. And when you are wrong, ask for forgiveness and without excuses allowing such behavior. Admit when you are wrong. Own up to it. Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, but don’t let them hold you back.

⦁ Be a loyal and honest friend. Friendships are only as strong as the effort and attention, patience and care, and meaningful time you put into them (quality over quantity). You can’t expect to have a best friend if you haven’t been one either. Yes, you’ll have to be vulnerable, but give it a shot. It’s worked with a few already 🙂

⦁ What others think of you shouldn’t always matter. Choose the right moments, people, or environments in which to question your impression on others and adjust accordingly. And by “adjust accordingly” I mean to clarify what a good person you are always trying to be. Don’t do something to alter your identity, unless it is an improvement. Stay true to yourself and choose these moments wisely!

⦁ God doesn’t place obstacles in your path that you can’t handle. Turn moments of hardship into moments of education, empowerment, and prevention. Your voice is powerful, just remember to think about when to speak and when to listen.

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About Nathalie