Hi! I’m Madeleine Grunde-McLaughlin, one of the interns at Aravind Eye Care Systems this summer. I am a rising junior, a Cognitive Science major in the College of Arts and Sciences, and I’m very interested in the application of technology and behavioral science to public health. By interning abroad, I want to put myself out of my comfort zone and embrace the unknown. I am trying to have few expectations and let the experience take me where it will. India will be a wonderful place to learn, with its growing economy and population, cultural and geographical distance from the West, and many public health opportunities.
I am writing this post on the plane from Delhi to Madurai (this post is published a few days late since I just got Wifi!). Although most of my time so far has been spent recovering from jet lag, I got a brief introduction to Delhi yesterday at the Indian Habitat Center. To think I used to call Philly driving hectic! I cannot wait to get settled at Inspiration House, explore Madurai, and meet our supervisors at Aravind. I have immense respect for the work the people at Aravind do, their compassion, and their commitment to eliminating needless blindness no matter a person’s ability to pay. I’m so excited to learn more about how they organize such a massive endeavor to deliver quality care for all people.
Above all this summer, I want to push myself to realize where I am ignorant. Professionally, I have not previously worked within a large organization, and I want to internalize Aravind’s spirit of doing work for the sake of compassion and helping those in need. Personally, I have never been abroad for this long and do not know how it will affect me. Culturally, I have spent my whole life in the Philly area, so I don’t know what parts of my experience I consider normal but are actually unique, and vice versa. In the week I spent in Amman before flying to India, I noticed the difference with which people approached and talked about topics such as culture, colonialism, and Eurocentrism. Even if the ideas were the same, the delivery was different than what I had experienced in the U.S. I am most looking forward to meeting people at the hospital, local people in Madurai, and other international students staying at the Inspiration House, having fun together and listening to their perspectives. At this point in my life I feel as though I have some to give, but much more to learn, and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.