Grant Recipient: Rachel Santiago ‘12
Organization: MINDS (Mental Illnesses and Neurological Diseases Foundation, Inc.)
Location: New York/India
My summer was split between two cities. I started out in New York, USA, working as a Development Intern for the MINDS Foundation. I assisted in the promotion of fund raising events, worked on volunteer materials, and assisted in preparation for the trip to India. After a few weeks in New York, I flew to Vadodara, a city in the Indian state of Gujarat. Unfortunately, I got sick with food poisoning and had to come back home in order to get better. However, had I not gotten sick, my role as a volunteer would have had two stages: stage one involves shadowing psychiatrists at Dhiraj General Hospital, learning more about mental health care and what it means to be a mental health care worker in India. In the second stage, I would have traveled to the MINDS clinic in the village of GolaGamadi to conduct baseline surveys. Luckily, I was able to do part of the first stage, and I learned a great deal about a number of things about mental health care and Indian hospitals. However, I learned even more from the general experience of being in India: I have seen a slum filled with homes built out of tarp and sticks placed next to a Toyota dealership, bathed from a bucket, and sat in traffic as we weaved our way around the cows that roam the streets of India. The most important thing I have learned is what it means to be a member of a global community, one who is mindful of her consumerism and the toll it takes on the environment. Since I have been home I have continued to work for MINDS, developing materials for future volunteers and for the program directors of the MINDS Foundation. I continue to apply the lessons I learned in India to my daily life here, and it is a continuing process—one I am extremely grateful for.