Week 10: Are we really almost done?


A local shop in Madurai and an example of the vibrant colourfulness of india that I love and will miss

Wow I can’t believe we’re heading into the final week of the internship. Even now, I still feel surprised by new experiences and lessons that India is showing me each day. I think I will really miss the traffic-stopping cowherds, the casual elephant strolling down the street, and the steaming cups of chai prepared conveniently by the roadside. I came to India this summer with a burning desire to explore an exotic country while doing something meaningful at the world’s most efficient ophthalmology hospital, both goals which I have happily achieved. At Aravind, we have successfully completed 3 projects, 1 of which was a research project on shared medical appointments, a system of seeing patients that offered multiple dimensions of interaction; both patient-patient and patient-doctor. We gave a presentation to many of the senior management, doctors and researchers of SMA at London and even designed and carried out a pilot study in the glaucoma clinic! It was a proud moment to see our suggestions actually being carried out in the hospital. On a broader level, I find it amazing each day how Aravind is able to stay true to its benevolent missions of “preventing needless blindness” through maintaining the highest quality of eye care while minimizing costs and being completely financial sustainable all at the same time! There are lessons to take home by everyone, from the inspiring and relentless spirit of the hospital workers to the beautifully designed and financially sound model that forms the basis of one of the most impressive eye care hospitals in the world.


Me playing with a cataract surgery training simulator. After this experience, I had a much stronger admiration for the skillful Aravind surgeons who could perform cataract surgery in under 5 minutes!

To supplement the work that we doing at Aravind, I have also been attending daily yoga classes at Sivananda Yoga Centre, where I learned the art of flexibility, zen, and where to buy the best cakes in Madurai. My co-interns and I have also become experts on the food-scene in the city, exploring a different restaurant every evening for the duration of our internship. Our knowledge of places to eat and of local dishes impresses even the most local of locals, such as where to find idlis that are as soft as clouds and the best non-veg restaurant to try a beautifully cooked rabbit biriyani. I think we also win the prize for most-travelled CASI interns of all time. Right off the bat, Zach, Abhi, and I took it upon ourselves to visit as many places as possible in India, including Cochin, Munnar, Ooty, Coimbatore, Mysore, Bangalore, Kodaikanal, Rameshwaram, and a handful of other impressive cities, towns, and hill stations in South India. This weekend, I am taking my travels to the North, where I am excited to see a new side of the country.

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One of my most memorable cultural experiences was wearing a sari and attending a south indian wedding

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A typical south indian meal featuring a large plain dosa, a vada, and some chutney and sambar on the side

Now that the internship is wrapping up, I am getting very sentimental about leaving my new friends and the city that I currently call home. At my yoga class last week, my instructor asked me whether I could make it to a big ceremony occurring in 2 weeks. I told her that I was leaving, to which she responded, “So when are you coming back?” I could only sadly shake my head and tell her that I did not know. All I know is that I will definitely take it upon myself to come back to India and to relive the colorful experiences from this summer.

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About jane21290

My name is Jane Chen. I was born in Hangzhou, China, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. I just graduated from Penn in May 2016 with majors in chemistry and business operations and a minor in religious studies. Check out my posts on my journey to the exotic country of India (Summer 2014)!