It’s funny that after three months of living this new remote quarantine lifestyle, the idea of things going back to the “normal” is both comforting yet strange. Just three months ago, I was leaving campus to head off for spring break, barely sparing my friends more than a passing farewell and a “See you in a week.” A week of relaxation, one month and a half of spring semester, and a whole summer of family time and two months in Tanzania. Fast forward halfway into spring break, Duke pulls out the all caps email and ends the normal semester as we once knew it. Three weeks later, all university sponsored travel is cancelled.
It has been hard finding purpose and tasks to keep occupied with during this global pandemic. Most internships shriveled up and travel is essentially out of the question. I want to look forward to the return of life as we once knew it, but it feels almost foreign to even think about; too many unknowns and not enough givens. So, when DukeEngage proposed the idea of a remote project, I finally felt something other than lethargic for the first time in a long time.
This week concludes week 1 of my DukeEngage Independent (Virtual) Project interning with Engineering World Health, headquartered in Durham, North Carolina. EWH is actually the organization I was going to be partnering with this summer in Tanzania, sans pandemic, so this opportunity to work with them still was very exciting. I chose to reach out to them because of my interest in their mission of empowering the biomedical engineering community to improve the delivery of healthcare in the developing world.
So far, I have delved deep into the teaching curriculum EWH provides both its Institute students and to any university club that has an interest. My task at the moment is organizing Summer Institute Secondary Project Reports and highlighting projects that appear to be the most impactful, efficient, and sustainable. Doing so allowed me to gain much insight into the creative thought processes of students participating in the program as they organize a subproject to cater to the specific needs of the hospitals they were stationed at. While a far mimicry of actually experiencing all Tanzania has to offer, I look forward to learning more about what goes on behind the scenes of the program and to work alongside the people that make it all possible.