Written by Austin Wesevich, MD/MPH, student at Washington University in St. Louis
I am an MD/MPH student at Washington University interested in global health, so I applied for several fellowships this past year to fund time abroad. I was fortunate enough to receive a few offers, so I was able to spend four weeks in Zambia on a Benjamin Kean fellowship through American Society of Tropical Medicine (ASTMH) working with the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (CIDRZ) on several data analysis projects related to diarrhea, ORS, and rotavirus vaccination.
Now, I am in Malawi for 10 months on a Doris Duke fellowship through the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, working research projects related to HIV in pregnancy and the neurocognitive development of infants born to HIV positive mothers. I am so grateful for these opportunities, and I wanted to share how you might be able to receive funding to spend time abroad.
Here are some fellowships you could apply for if you are interested in public health or medicine:
- Doris Duke Clinical Research Mentorship
- Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellowship
- Fogarty Global Health Program for Fellows and Scholars
- Fulbright US Student Program
- Fulbright-Fogarty Awards in Public Health
- Global Health Corps Fellows
- South American Program in HIV Prevention Research (SAPHIR) at UCLA
My top 10 memories from my time in Zambia:
10) Being told when I asked to borrow a pair of scissors at work on a Friday that the only lady with a pair of scissors had gone home for the weekend and that I would have to wait until Monday. I was working at the main office for a 1000+ person NGO!
9) Going to my first ever polo game (Zambia vs. Brazil), which quickly transitioned into a DJ dance party in which I helped get the dance party started and then danced for 2+ hours.
8) Finally getting the chance to hang out with my neighbors by using my WashU frisbee to bridge the gap. Then, getting beat several times by a 5-year-old in a card game called “Twins & Followers,” a simpler version of gin.
7) Joining a wonderful Catholic church choir at a Jesuit parish within one week of arriving in Zambia, then realizing at the first rehearsal how similar it was to my college a cappella group’s (The Pikers) rehearsals.
6) Feeling quite humbled at my first ever ex-pat party when I realized I was the only one present who could only speak one language.
5) Exploring in the kitchen sans recipes, including veggie curry, a week’s worth of yellow beans, many versions of french toast, homemade onion rings and french fries, and a pudding/custard topping to use up my milk that was spoiling.
4) Finding some use for the annoying Jack Russell terrier (Louie) that I lived with: cockroach clean-up! Whenever I saw a cockroach crawling around the house (and this was often), I would call Louie over, and he would play with it for a while, carry it off in his mouth, and eventually kill it….and likely eat it.
3) Going whitewater rafting on the Zambezi River on a raft of Europeans with Zambia to my left and Zimbabwe to my right, falling into class 5 rapids when the raft tipped (twice), and spotting crocodiles and baboons on the rocky banks of the gorge.
2) Having enough solitude time to read 5 books, all of which were thought-provoking gifts from friends:
- Conversations with Myself – a collection of excerpts from Nelson Mandela’s letters, interviews, and speeches that describe his life’s journey including his 20+ years in prison
- Grendel – a contemporary version of Beowulf, told from the monster’s perspective, that explores themes of existentialism and nihilism
- Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa – an autobiography of a white man’s experience of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) through its civil war and a memoir to southern Africa
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom – a self-help type book by a Mexican physician who shares the wisdom of the Toltecs in ridding yourself of the fog of life and living in more happiness and truth
- A Distant Grief: The Real Story Behind the Martyrdom of Christians in Uganda – a gruesomely disturbing yet religiously inspiring description of life as a Christian in Uganda in the 1970s under Idi Amin’s regime
1) Smiling ear-to-ear as I explored Victoria Falls (one of the seven natural wonders of the world) as the lone visitor when the sun was first rising, and capturing different angles of the falls with my iPhone:
Follow along with Austin as he continues his adventures by subscribing to his newsletter, Austin’s African Adventures (AAA).