Hi there! My name is Bronte and I am a student from the University of Melbourne. I was fortunate enough to travel to Cambodia with Challenges Abroad in pre-COVID 2020. As we all know, the world has changed dramatically since then. COVID-19 has brought forth new challenges, and exacerbated pre-existing ones. While it is not possible to volunteer in-country at the moment, Challenges Abroad now offers Virtual Internships so you can get involved from your own home until it is safe to travel again.
I recently completed a part-time virtual internship with the FutureSense Foundation (FSF) in Nepal. Across the five-week period, I worked to develop a comprehensive research report focusing on the impact of zoonotic disease in Dhulikhel, a city about 30 kilometres from Kathmandu in the Kavrepalanchok District. I was also required to adapt my findings by constructing a curriculum outline which addresses zoonotic disease transmission on a local scale.
Each week, I met with the in-country FSF team and my mentor Jordy. While generously sharing first hand experiences and providing insight into the “real world” beyond my laptop screen, they also endured my endless rambling as I organised my thoughts aloud. I am so grateful for their patience, ongoing support and encouragement.
We also had scheduled meetings with local experts to gauge the impact of zoonotic disease and discuss the logistics of community interventions such as rabies vaccination. These meetings - and I cannot stress this enough - were the backbone of my virtual internship experience. I was honoured to speak with nurses and veterinarians who went above and beyond to answer my questions, with one expert presenting a 102 SLIDE POWERPOINT about animal health. Back home in Australia, Challenges Abroad also ran professional development workshops to fortify our leadership and communication skills throughout the internship.
While a virtual internship is innately different from in-person volunteering, you should not let this stop you from giving it a try. This experience has truly helped to reaffirm my career trajectory and take my next step with newfound confidence. I feel grateful to have been involved with this program, all the way from my little desk in outer Geelong. Technology is often used as a means to be critical of one another and ourselves, but it can also enable us to connect and collaborate regardless of the borders which divide us.
If you’re passionate about making a difference in this world, don’t let this pandemic stop you! We don’t want anyone missing out on an international experience, so we’ve brought it to you. Check out our virtual internship program on our website for more information.