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Work the World competition winner

My elective in Tanzania

by Georgina Dixson

I was one of five winners of the MIPS/Work the World competition. It was an incredible stroke of luck that afforded me one of the most incredible adventures of my life - a ‘bonus’ elective in Arusha, Tanzania. Everything about it was an experience incomparable and unparalleled by any I had before. 

My placement in Mount Meru Hospital, a public hospital in Arusha, starkly contrasted my clinical experiences at home. I was challenged on every level, frustrated, heartbroken and distressed by some of what I saw. Despite this, it was rewarding, interesting and uplifting to spend time in the wards and with the patients. Making the children in the paediatric wards laugh was such a privilege and being able to support and comfort patients in other wards was gratifying. I was struck by the ingenuity of the doctors and their ability to work with such limited resources. I saw many interesting conditions that are relatively common in Tanzania, but rare in Australia. I also had the chance to get some excellent hands-on experience. Some of the patient management, however, was difficult to witness and it was important to remember that there is generally method behind the apparent madness. As foreign students, we are there to learn and experience, not to judge or teach. You cannot hold the systems and methods there to the standards that are applied at home; it is a completely different and incomparable world.

I had an incredible time living in Arusha in the Work the World House and getting to know students from all over the world. It is amazing how quickly we bonded; I know I have made some friends that will stay with me forever. It was really fun and so helpful to have such a great group of students at home, as we were able to support each other while on placement and after more difficult days in the hospital. It was also an automatic group of travel buddies with whom I could explore Arusha and hang out. The Work the World team was beyond fantastic, always greeting us with friendly smiles. They went to every length to ensure everything, both in terms of the placement and any extra activities, went smoothly. They bent over backwards to sort out even the smallest of hiccups and we were spoilt rotten with beautiful food, facilities, friendly smiles, and a wonderful atmosphere.

Tanzania is a beautiful and fascinating country; I loved having the opportunity to explore beyond the walls of the hospital. I did so many incredible things – saw beautiful waterfalls, climbed mountains, visited Masai villages, learnt some Tanzanian dance moves, and saw more people than I thought conceivable jammed into a small dala dala van (the equivalent of a public bus). Going on the Work the World Safari in the Serengetti and the Ngorongoro Crater was definitely one of the highlights for me. It was, without a doubt, one of the best weekends I have ever had in my life! It was absolutely breathtaking. It rendered me completely speechless and brought me to tears on several occasions. We saw so many beautiful animals and landscapes.

My time in Arusha flew past and my experiences have been life changing. I have learnt, been challenged, and inspired. I have been privileged to have some of the most amazing experiences and have made some beautiful friends along the way. Thank you MIPS and Work the World for giving me such a unique and phenomenal experience!

The other four winners were Dr Rahul Chatterjee (NSW) Sri Lanka, Dr Kai Vin Fong (WA) the Philippines, Mrs Chanel Jones (NSW) Nepal and Dr Aakriti Gupta (SA) Ghana. 

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