student stories

Refer a Friend Program!

As an IPSL alum you are our best ally when it comes to spreading the word about our unique programs so take advantage of our alumni referral program. For any participant whom you recommend to any program (and they indicate you as the recommender as well as participate in a program) you will receive $250 cash. There is no limit so start talking it up! We had one alum receive an award from IPSL for over $1000 and you can too! This is just another way IPSL shows our appreciation to all our wonderful alumni.

Laney Jones, UG, Tanzania

During my time in Tanzania, I was immersed in a beautiful culture and community. I fell in love with my new home, connecting deeply with several community members, making my service in the clinic even more meaningful. I lived with a host family in central Arusha. My classes focused on human rights and community organizing, public health especially in the area of HIV, and learning more about Tanzania’s history and society. These classes were taught in a small room behind a church in my neighborhood. It was a wonderful 15 minute walk from my house along streets bursting with life. There was never a dull moment - the streets were full of people of all ages, countless chickens, dogs, and goats occasionally wandering around. Everything was surrounded by beautiful tropical plants that were blooming and dazzling with bright colors.

Part of my IPSL program was getting to work with a service site. I volunteered in Afyamax medical clinic two days a week and learned more in those few incredible months than I can explain. Afyamax is a small diagnostics clinic tucked a little ways back from the main street of town. Yet it still seemed to always be bustling with life. Diagnostics is one of the areas where the public government hospitals fall short in providing for the community. Afyamax receives many patients seeking tests on orders from the hospitals. The staff who work in this clinic were like a family to one another and they welcomed me with open arms. They taught me how to work in each department, but I spent most of my time in the laboratory and the radiology room. In the diagnostics lab I learned how to run blood work, urinary tests, look at samples under the microscope, and perform rapid blood tests for HIV and malaria. The radiology room had one of the only CT scanners in the surrounding area and was an essential piece of the clinic. They also allowed me to assist with EKGs and ultrasounds. The doctors, nurses, and lab technicians were happy to share their knowledge. They gave me the encouragement and support I needed to learn and thrive in this new environment.

The power went out on a regular basis in Arusha. Many weeks it was out for several days or at least 8 hours of the day. It taught me to have patience with the things that are out of my control, but it also sparked many conversations with the clinic staff about areas in which they would like to serve their community better. They struggle with the unreliable electricity as it is government controlled and there is no warning about when it will be on or off. Most of their work relies on machines, therefore they often have to turn away patients or reschedule. Some days they stay with patients in the waiting room until 10 or 11 pm when the power returns to be able to eventually perform these essential diagnostic tests. They are currently trying to save money to purchase a generator. It is very expensive but would drastically improve their ability to serve and meet the needs of the community.

I was very interested in public health before going abroad, but my time in Tanzania allowed me to pursue my passions and dive further into the field that I have grown to love. It is challenging and always changing, yet it is also so vital. Health care systems around the world are drastically different and being able to serve in a clinic in such a unique environment allowed me to gain new perspectives and ideas about what healthcare is and could be.

Kelsee Smith, UG, Southeast Asia

“As for my time in Chiang Mai thus far, it has been wonderful. It is really beginning to feel like home as we are settling into our third full week here. It is crazy how fast time passes; at breakfast this morning with one of my Thai friends, I realized that I only have about 6 more weeks in Thailand, before departing to Cambodia. It really challenged me in a lot of ways to make the most out of the time here, because I do not want to look back with a lot of regrets. Some of my goals after realizing this are to make more Thai friends, spend more time studying and practicing the language, and to spend less time on social media by only checking it one day a week. Overall, time here has been more than great; it has challenged me in more ways than I could have ever imagined and grown me as a person in ways that will forever change me. I am excited for what the next three and a half months hold. “

Adria, Grad IDS, Tanzania

We are wrapping up our week of the Human Rights course with Martin O'Reilly. Today we were able to visit the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights! We got a tour of the facilitates which included seeing their research library and the courtroom. They were as excited to show us around and share with us their mission and initiatives as we were to view it. So far, I've served with two organizations since I've been in Tanzania. After getting settled in our first week, we traveled to a town called Moshi to teach English to Karanga Technical School students. For four days, we taught three classes and over 200 studentsEnglish. Each day we created a lesson plan for each session. We started in a large group and then split into smaller groups allowing each volunteer to be a group leader. The students ranged from 18-year-olds - late 20s, and some were even older. Most students were studying to be an electrical or mechanical engineer, studying masonry, or carpentry. Their dedication and commitment to their studies were inspiring. There were a few days our class ran over the class period time and the students stayed seated. They attentively and patiently continued to learn until we dismissed them. Other days they were keeping us after class to ask questions or get more clarity on what we covered. In the last class on our last day, the students reserved the time to perform for us. Various students sang or rapped songs in front of all their peers to entertain us and show their appreciation. My students even pulled me up on the stage to perform a silly exercise I taught them earlier in the week. Needless to say, it was hard to say goodbye to our students without getting emotional. We exchanged emails and social media names and have been in contact with some of them since. It was a beautiful week in Moshi. The second organization I've served with is my service placement for the semester. This organization is AriseAmka Africa. Its purpose is to promote self-love and confidence in Tanzanian youth expressed through arts, communication, human rights, and music. I am working with the founder to further the organizations' mission. I am working on a social media campaign and researching to create a curriculum for classroom implementation. Two hours a week we will go into the classroom to build students self-esteem through skill development and creative expression. We will pilot the program in a private school in Arusha (not sure the school's name) with the goal to add the program to more schools in the city, and long-term - programs throughout the country. We have not visited the school just yet, but I am excited to be apart of the organization's program development.

Nikki Gates, UG, Tanzania

"After participating in IPSL Arusha, TZ (Fall 2014), I decided that community-oriented work was what I wanted to do with my life. There are so many underserved communities and populations around the world, and I realized that I have the ability to provide assistance to them - both internationally and domestically. Following graduation, I joined AmeriCorps so that I could give back to domestic communities in need. As a FEMA Corps Team Leader in the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), I was able to serve communities in Louisiana and Florida during their most vulnerable times by doing disaster relief and recovery work. I then decided to re-enroll, this time as a VISTA Leader in Bellingham, WA, where I do recruitment, program development, and program management for VISTAs in Northwest Washington. While my two terms of service have been extremely different, they have opened my eyes to different needs within communities and the endless opportunities to serve communities in various capacities."