This January, Catherine Mannon ’13 of Lexington, Ky., will be escaping the wintery weather in Danville and traveling to Africa, where she will complete a month-long internship in hopes of better understanding public health issues and the influence culture has on medicine.
Mannon, who has long been dedicated to serving others, chose to spend CentreTerm in Malawi for several reasons. “I think it’s important to give back in whatever areas you excel,” she says. “When I tried to combine a hands-on internship in the medical field—something I’m interested in—with the idea of service, I decided to do medical service abroad.”
After researching various service programs abroad, she chose World Camp as the organization through which she would volunteer.
One of the deciding factors in choosing World Camp was a recommendation from Heather Walls ’11. Walls lived in Africa a few summers ago and worked with World Camp, an organization that “believes that through education, it’s possible to empower people to make healthy decisions,” Mannon says.
“AIDS is a huge issue in Malawi and is a major topic that World Camp addresses,” she continues. “The camp goes to schools in rural villages and is set up like any summer camp with games, songs and, of course, educational lessons interspersed.”
During her time in Africa, Mannon will help lead these activities and teach classes about HIV and AIDS, deforestation and gender issues. She will also volunteer in various shelters that protect homeless children in the city.
“And at the end of the trip,” she says, “the group will go on a safari in Zambia— which should be amazing to say the least.”
Having never before completed community service projects abroad, Mannon says she is “definitely looking forward to working with youths in Malawi. I’m also very excited to help with issues that concern their nation and to learn about Malawi’s culture as a developing nation and how their culture affects health concerns.
“I’ve never been to a developing nation and so cannot speak from experience about true poverty,” she continues. “However, from what I’ve heard, people in Malawi have such a greater sense of community and often happiness. I find this idea intriguing as it relates to our level of happiness in our own society. It’ll be interesting to find the connections between happiness, health and culture.”