Hi! I write to you from a conference room in Riobamba, Ecuador, having just spent the past 2 hours talking to a doctor about the challenges of starting an ophthalmology residency program at a local hospital. Just 2 weeks away from going to the Aravind Eye Care Hospital–arguably the pinnacle of low-cost, high-volume, high-quality ophthalmology–I’m so excited to experience a true success story, learning about the many challenges that were overcome to make Aravind Eye Hospital what it is today.
My name is Ashna Patel, and I will be interning at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, Tamil Nadu this summer. I’m a rising junior from Pittsburgh, PA in the Life Sciences & Management (LSM) Program, studying Biology and Finance with a minor in South Asian Studies on the pre-med track. At Penn, I’m a part of Penn International Impact Consulting, Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity, and the HATRICC-US lab at Penn Medicine.
This summer, I’m most excited to truly experience India. The first time I remember visiting India was just this past December, and living in my Mom’s childhood home, meeting family for the first time in years, and seeing the beauties of Jodhpur and Udaipur made me feel oddly immediately at home. I feel really lucky to now have the opportunity to meet and get to know South India alongside Achint, Eric, and Sage this summer, and look forward to the many yummy meals, pretty temples, and scenic views that lie ahead.
I’m also incredibly excited to learn about what global health ‘done right’ looks like at a hospital lauded internationally for its management. Having spent last summer at Bwiam General Hospital in a rural region of The Gambia, I saw how under-resourced health systems can struggle to meet the basic needs of their communities. At Aravind Eye Hospital, I’m excited to see how a few resources can make a big impact, and hopefully play a small part in understanding the next challenge the organization hopes to tackle through my project.
Super grateful for this opportunity, and can’t wait to get started!