Published: Jan. 15, 2019 By ,
Mikale Ogbaselassie, Summer 2018

Thanks to the contributions of our donors, Mikale Ogbaselassie was able to spend six weeks of his summer break in Medellín, Colombia. Mikale is a senior studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and is a McNeill and McNair scholar. Over the summer, he held an internship with the AIESEC Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana: Ronald McDonald House at the Hospital General de Medellín. Mikale's main responsibilities included spending time with children, preparing food and working with parents to inform them of hospital's weekly curriculum. Below, Mikale shares what a typical day looked like for him and what he gained during this experience.

On an average day I would be at the hospital at 9 am and begin disinfection of the space and all of the toys the children used.  Then we would go over the plan for the day and prepare for any activities we wanted to do.  After this, we open the space and children begin coming along with their parents.  We prepare snacks and movies alongside our programming and this goes on for the majority of the day.  (Programming consists of mostly games or interactive activities).  After all the children have left we talk to the parents and promote healthy practices like how to clean the inside of the ear for instance.

I would say I gained the most skills in the realm of intercultural communication as I did not speak much Spanish when I arrived in Colombia.  The first weeks were difficult but as the time went on my Spanish improved and I learned a lot about the culture of the county and region.  This was very important to understand because it explains much of the differences in behavior and how to interact with Colombians.  I also learned how to observe and understand non-verbal communication.  Practicing patience was also reinforced with this experience, especially when it comes to dealing with children.

Receiving the McNeill Internship Scholarship helped me a tremendous amount, as this all would not have been possible without it.  The money from the scholarship went towards the program fee, round-trip airfare, groceries/food and transportation.  All of these things together had a significant cost that I would not have been able to cover without the scholarship.