Employer: VerdeFam, Mindelo, Sao Vincente, Republic of Cape Verde

Internship Sponsor: BPIP Internship Fund

Kety Silva '14 Hometown: Brockton, MA
Campus Activities: Black Student Union (BSU)

My Experience:

When I applied for the Bucknell Public Interest Program, I did not expect to embark on the greatest adventure of my life. My internship this summer was nothing less than life changing. I was given the opportunity to travel back to the Cape Verdean islands, the place of my birth, a distant memory, a nostalgia that became an eight-week reality. Working with the NGO, VerdeFam came with challenges that have pushed me towards a more positive attitude, a more focused career path, and greater appreciation for my opportunities. For eight-weeks, Mindelo, Sao Vicente, Cape Verde was my home. I met many people both on and off the job. I learned about healthcare policy, legislation, and how a new sovereign state like Cape Verde tackles political and sociological issues regarding healthcare access. VerdeFam is not governmentally funded but rather receives grants from international organizations such as IPPF and the Gates Foundation. During clinical hours VerdeFam provides affordable gynecological exams, ultrasounds, STI exams, anti contraceptive methods, pregnancy tests, and family planning options. Within the communities VerdeFam is responsible for hosting debates, informational sessions, HIV/AIDS testing, general exams, and condom dispersal using the Mobile Clinic. Upon my arrival in Sao Vicente I jumped right into my internship responsibilities, where I would be challenged to understand a different culture, that was my own but very unfamiliar.

As weeks went by, I became more comfortable with my role. My co-workers were very helpful and I was invited to many collaborated events with other human-service organizations. During the clinical hours I was able to connect with many people within the community as I marked appointments for gynecological exams, and gave them information regarding what services VerdeFam provided. My language skills improved dramatically, as I helped to translate English documents into Portuguese and vise-versa. Everyday I learned something new. My time in Cape Verde was truly a service learning opportunity that I am grateful for.

What is the most interesting or important thing you took from your Internship this summer?

The most important aspect of my internship with VerdeFam, were the connections I made with community members on a day to day basis. Through immersing myself in all aspects of Cape Verdean life I was better able to understand the impact of social, political, and economical issues regarding health. I felt whole and at home, as if before I was missing a part of who I am. This experience helped me to overall understand my culture outside of American society, which is a feeling that can not be measured, making my summer internship ever so fulfilling.

How did the BPIP Fund help make your experience possible?

The BPIP Fund made it possible to fund my trip to the Cape Verdean Islands. Without the funds my experience would not have been possible, and too expensive to fund on my own. Thank you, BPIP.

Why would you recommend the BPIP Fund?

I would recommend the BPIP Program for anyone who is willing to be taken out of his or her comfort zone. It may not be Cape Verde, or health but an internship that pushes boundaries that may have never been pushed before, has made me stronger and ready to concur academic and personal endeavors that may come my way.