Intern Experience

Why Intern with Uganda Village Project

 

We recruit diverse, highly-qualified intern cohorts.
Our interns are undergraduate students, graduate students, and young professionals that come from various backgrounds and countries and study a range of disciplines related to global health. Many interns are studying (or studied) medicine or public health, as well as peace and conflict, psychology, environmental science, engineering, nursing, and international development. Interns attend (or have degrees from) a variety of public and private institutions of higher learning throughout Uganda, the United States, and the world. While our interns bring a diverse range of experiences, perspectives, and strengths, our cohorts are united by their passion, resourcefulness, and humility.

We include both international and Ugandan volunteers in each team for two reasons: it allows for learning and personal expansion on the part of both Ugandan and international volunteers, and it allows teams to implement projects more effectively, drawing on the strengths of both cultures and educational/experiential backgrounds.
 

We empower our interns with work that requires a high level of independence, innovation, and adaptability.
Most of our teams will live in a rural Ugandan village up to an hour away from Iganga town. We trust our teams to make many important decisions and plans on their own. While UVP staff will immediately respond to any request for advice or help, we expect a high degree of self-motivation, innovation, and independence from our interns, and we have never been disappointed!
 

We emphasize a needs-based, community led approach.
Our teams begin their work in the village with extremely detailed needs assessments utilizing qualitative and quantitative methods (e.g. house to house visits, community meetings, interviews, focus groups, Health Center record inspection). Teams are constantly listening to and engaging with their partner village, working alongside community members, as opposed to viewing them as “targets” of “development implementation.”
 

We work from theory to praxis.
We usually choose interns who have an academic background relating to their work in the village. By doing this, we allow interns the rare opportunity to select and apply what they have learned in school to create appropriate and feasible solutions to local health and development issues. Our program encourages innovative ideas and critical problem-solving skills, while never forgetting that our first commitment is to serve the village community.
 

While team experiences of our internship program will differ, this is what most interns gain from their experience:

  • A general familiarity with the arena of international “development” and its actors – the role of government, NGOs, CBOs, etc.
  • A familiarity with the arena of public health and its actors in Sub-Saharan Africa – government-run health service structure and functioning, the role of government officials in health initiatives, the formation of a grassroots community movement for health promotion/advocacy, the role of NGOs in health provision, etc.
  • A detailed understanding of Uganda’s medical services – the structure of regional health centers, the role of decentralized health centers and the challenges they face in delivering services to the rural poor, the role of local government officials, and methods of public health and healthcare outreach/service at the village level.
  • Knowledge in how to actually implement health services on the ground – how to most effectively work with government employees, how to mobilize individuals to attend events, the best strategies for interactive educational presentations, how to work with a translator (especially during presentations), how to deal with requests for help which are beyond your personal skill level or capacity, how to change plans quickly when things don’t happen as planned or when immediate opportunities present themselves.

  • Ability to live and work effectively in an isolated, rural setting – how to bathe, clean, cook and live without running water or electricity, how to pick up an unfamiliar language quickly, how to win trust in rural villages, how to communicate across language and cultural barriers, how to work crops in Uganda, how to prepare food over a charcoal stove, how to get around on Ugandan public transportation, how to bargain for food or other goods.

  • Ability to work effectively within a small, inter-cultural team – how to effectively delegate tasks between members, how to deal with stress and communication issues, how to deal with cross-cultural communication between international and Ugandan interns, how to deal with down time without feeling pressured to work 24/7, how to incorporate the mission of the team into one’s daily routine and habits.