My name is Claudia and I have just had the privilege of virtually Interning for the FutureSense Foundation, in Thailand, through Challenges Abroad for the past 10 weeks!
I live in Melbourne and am in my final year of my double degree- Applied Public Health and Global Studies at the Australian Catholic University. I have always had a passion for promoting and advocating for women’s health and gender equality through empowerment, education, and opportunities, which is exactly what this Internship gave me the chance to do.
Over the past 2 months I have worked with the Thailand Hub of the FutureSense Foundation, specifically for Hilltribe communities in the Mae Sariang district, where many health outcomes are considered poor and preventable with the right education and awareness. In my time I was able to contribute to and finalise a health curriculum, as well as take-home resources containing education on menstrual, reproductive, and sexual health, as well as matters of consent and safety.
Throughout my time, I was given the opportunity to meet with and listen to local community members from the Hilltribes, who were able to share with me their perspective surrounding their culture, what their issues or concerns where, why these health outcomes might be occurring and what barriers exist that could prevent awareness and the changing of behaviours. In addition, I met with my mentor weekly, the Thailand Hub multiple times a week, as well as working alongside Interns from other countries and meeting other global FutureSense Foundation Hubs, all to guide and help me achieve this goal.
It truly was an astounding and rewarding experience. I feel overwhelmingly proud of what I achieved in my role and what I was able to contribute. Being able to know that I have produced culturally appropriate and sensitive sexual, menstrual, and reproductive health education tools and lessons that really will raise awareness and reduce stigma, is something I am so proud of. Additionally, it gave me a real life and professional environment to put my University learnings to the practical test.
If thinking about interning, I highly recommend giving it a go and putting in your all. It really was an opportunity that by giving it my all, the results, final product, and feedback reflected so. Throughout, I’d recommend using all the resources you have access to as much as possible-you will be supported by a team of many with invaluable advice and experiences they are all willing to share. By being open, transparent with your work and goals, or sharing any questions or concerns along the way, they will guide you through and really bring the best out of you and your work. My last tip for any future interns is not to be afraid of reflecting and being honest with yourself about what your goals, intentions, or skills are at the beginning of the experience. Constantly check in on this and you’ll be able to make conscious efforts and use the opportunities you have to develop them.
In this internship, I personally gained so much more than I could have imagined. I learnt so much about my skills, my capabilities, and passions, and how I was able to adapt and develop. I had a virtual, yet international professional platform to experience and learn more about working and communicating as a team, leading a group, and conducting my own research. On top of this, I was also able to develop a greater sense of cultural awareness, sensitivity, understanding and of course communication skills. The most fulfilling aspect was even though my experience was virtual, I was able to still make a profound difference across the globe in normalising these issues, reducing the inequalities in education and ultimately empowering individuals with the ability to make their own informed choices regarding their own health.
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.