Ethiopian Encounters – 2012 Grad Shares Peace Corps Experiences

shanth-in-ethiopiaDemystification, Ethiopian women, water, and home are just a few of the topics Shanti Purushotham ’12 (Neuroscience/Spanish) explores in her blog which highlights her experiences in the Peace Corps.

As a student with experience working and volunteering internationally, Shanthi focused her time at Bowdoin exploring her interest in the public health field in order to learn more about the barriers in access to quality healthcare.  She participated in the Alternative Spring Break trip to Guatemala to work at Safe Passage and was inspired to spend the next summer volunteering at a government-funded hospital in Bangalore, India.

Shanthi received the Preston Public Interest Career Fund Grant to work at the Oasis Health Network which along with the Sociology course Critical Theory and New Media with Asst. Professor Dhiraj Murthy, ignited her interest in health communication and the potential for social media to disseminate critical information as a way to mitigate healthcare disparities. She received the Thomas A. McKinley ’06 Grant after her junior year to work for a social media technology company in India to do a feasibility study on the company’s newly developed technology’s ability to provide healthcare and health information to rural communities in India.

Shanthi began taking Community-based Courses as a way to connect her academic interests with community needs and became the McKeen Fellow for Community-Based Courses and Research, allowing her to encourage students to connect their academic interests with the local community’s needs.

These days we find Shanthi in a small villiage in Ethiopia working as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

An excerpt from October 2012:
“This past week we all received our permanent site placements – the towns we will be moving to at the end of December and will be living and serving in for the next two years. I was placed in a small town called Lumami, which has a population of about 13,000. Lumami is located about halfway between Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, the huge tourist attraction in Ethiopia because it is near the Blue Nile River and close to Lalibela and other ancient Ethiopian ruins. My host organization will be HAPCO (HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office) and I will be specifically working for a smaller health office run by this organization. I will primarily be focused on capacity building for the organization, helping with the office’s current HIV/AIDS programs, and doing health education/awareness for the local community. In a couple weeks I will be visiting my site with my counterpart ( boss) to see my new home, the health office, and to start laying the foundation for what will be my life and work for the next two years. Since Lumami is located in the Amhara region of Ethiopia this means that I will not have to switch languages for the next two months ( some other volunteers have to switch from Amharic to Oromo or Tigrinya depending on where they were placed). Instead, I will focus on Amharic, which is great because it is the national language of Ethiopia.”

Read more about Shanthi’s experience on her blog at:http://shanthiinethiopia.blogspot.com/.

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