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    • Laura Chan in Mexico

Laura Chan

Brazos Abiertos, Mexico

While summers in Mérida, México offer no respite from the heat and humidity, meeting and forming friendships with the warm and friendly people here made the less than optimal weather all worth it. I have been an intern this summer with Brazos Abiertos, a non-profit organization that focuses on HIV prevention and education in the Yucatan. Specifically, I meet weekly with youth from a local Mayan village (Teenage Education About Aids in Mérida, México - TEAMM Yucatan), educating them about STDs, including HIV, and empowering them to make smart sexual and life choices. I have also designed a curriculum as well as a sustainability plan for the youth education component of Brazos Abiertos, which in the future I hope will spread to surrounding villages and be led by local youth.

Perhaps the most rewarding component of this internship has been the friendships I formed with the local people, including the educational session participants. Coming to a new country can be daunting at times, but whether it be lugging jugs of purified water back to my house, grocery shopping, or offering to bring me food when I was sick, my friends here have helped me immensely. I have also enjoyed my time working with the youth from the Mayan village, and have seen how they look up to me not only as the leader of the sessions, but also as an older sibling. Coming to Mérida, I knew I would get experience in program planning and the workings of a non-profit, but I did not expect to have such an impact as a leader and role model in the community.

Laura Chan, Global Health
Global Health