Learning Cultural Humility

Hi! My name is Mallory Kirby; I am a rising senior in the College majoring in Health and Societies, concentrating in Public Health, and minoring in Chemistry. Throughout my time at Penn I have found myself navigating between pre-medical ambitions and an underlying focus and passion for community health—part of what drew me to CASI was the opportunity to both apply my knowledge and passion from the classroom to a real world setting.

Since I am entering my last year at Penn, this summer as a CASI intern will likely be my last Penn affiliated international program. I entered Penn three years ago excited to be a global representative of my school, looking to augment my classroom lessons with diverse “real-world” experiences. Because I was not able to study abroad, I have used my college summers to invest my time in varied international pursuits. I believe that the types of internships I’ve pursued throughout the years reflect my maturation as a student and my awareness of the role I hold as an outside volunteer or intern in a foreign culture, and have dramatically shaped the trajectory of my future. After my freshman year I volunteered as an international consultant with a women’s weaving cooperative in Alto Palena, Los Lagos, Chile. This month-long program was my first time traveling alone internationally, and helped shape my expectations and work ethic for college internships. Last summer, I lived and worked in Aachen, Germany as part of a research exchange program for 10 weeks. My research in Germany was very bio-medically focused; in many ways, this summer reaffirmed that my true interests lie in public and community health, not in the lab. These experiences have (hopefully) prepared me for the many challenges and rewards I anticipate from this summer!


(Mountains from my time in Chile!)

I will be working with Meghana and Alexi at Shahi Exports, an integrated textile manufacturing company, in Bangalore. After speaking with Anant, one of our supervisors, I’m approaching my time at Shahi with the aim of researching “non technical factors that affect the efficiency of a factory.” Using my HSOC background, I hope to research the non-medical aspects of health that then contribute to both community and factory functionality, efficiency, and cohesion. Part of what makes Shahi such a great fit for me is this focus on holistic contributors to both health and factory efficiency. I am excited to approach this summer not with rigidly defined ideals of public health, but rather with an attitude of resourcefulness, flexibility, and cooperation.

I hope to engage with female workers in particular throughout this summer; I’m not sure yet what my project will focus on, but I’m hoping it will involve women’s health and sanitation. I am beyond excited to get to know my fellow CASI interns, as well as our contacts at Shahi! While I am (extremely) worried about my ability to handle the heat, especially in Delhi, I can’t wait to take in the sites, smells, tastes, and sounds of India!

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About mallorykirby

I am a Class of 2017 student in the College, majoring in Health and Societies, minoring in Chemistry, and excited to be a 2016 CASI Intern! My family is currently based in Washington, DC but I have lived in many places throughout the US. I will be interning with Shahi Exports, and am excited to build relationships and memories in Bangalore this summer!