My name is Farshad Labbaf. I am 4th-year Psychology student at the Augustana Campus. On June 3rd I started my internship for the Child Family Health International, in their Public Health Delivery Innovations & Community Medicine program. In this program, I conducted analysis, observations, drafted reports for different NGO’s and worked with a Transgender Health Advocacy Organization known as MITR in West Delhi in writing proposals and developing a communications strategy. Yes, I started on June 3rd, so why am I doing a blog now. Well, to be honest, I didn’t think I had to write a blog. When I learned it was optional I was like “meh I’d rather not.” But once I found out that this will be part of our participation marks, I had concluded it would be best if I do participate in this process. Also, the only computer I had in my 5 weeks in India was 2006 Acer that operated with Windows XP, in a place where the internet moves at glacial speeds. So please do not give me sass over my late blog posts. Thank you! Now let’s get started with how I got to India, shall we….
I woke up at around 2:30 am as the pilot made an announcement telling all passengers we that we will be landing in New Delhi in fifteen minutes. When we landed, and I got out of the plane like everyone else and walked out onto the tarmac. When I entered the airport and looked around it hit me. I was actually in India. I was in a country that I had never visited in my life, in one of the biggest most chaotic cities in the world all on my own. I was kinda in a state of daze, not really in terms as to where I really was. And then I thought to myself “What the actual hell am I doing in India?”
Basically, I wasn’t even supposed to go there. I originally applied to go to Ghana for the same program. However, there were complications with my visa application (completely due to my own stupidity), and so my organization gave me three options. I either go to Uganda or India. So, I applied for Uganda, that is until I learned that the village where I will be working in is close to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where according to the Canadian government there was rebel activity…so again I was like “nope! not going there!”. So I applied to India and arrived in the country soon after.
When I arrived, I expected it to be hot (its India in June…of course its bloody hot”) and sure enough it was, even at 3:00 am. I got to my driver, and he took me to my flat where I met a fellow intern named Ashwin, who is a pre-med student at Rice University in Texas. We were both extremely jetlagged since we both arrived at basically the same time. Hence we did not speak but rather got to know each other in our room covered in cement and which had no windows (not exactly the Grand Marigold Hotel experience one would expect). But even in that creepy environment, we learned that we had a lot in common. We both wanted to go into the field of medicine. He had already given his MCAT, had a 3.9 GPA and was currently applying to Medical Schools throughout the country from India (a bit risky shall we say). I, on the other hand, did not check out any of those boxes. So I felt very intimidated. I felt like “man, we are basically the same age and I haven’t even written my MCAT yet nor do I feel like I am anywhere close to going into the field of medicine.”
In the last winter semester, I had struggled profoundly in many aspects, which I will go into more detail with in my next blog post. But basically, I had no confidence in my abilities anymore. I felt that medical school and my career ambitions were but a distant dream fueled by the fervent idealism of my youth. There were multiple occasions in the last winter semester where I questioned whether medicine was the right path for me. Perhaps that is why I came to India in the first place, so I can in some way find myself and discover who I really want to be. Don’t get me wrong…I know for certain I want to pursue a career in the world of global health development, but how was the question…and that is why I went there, so I can find the answer.
But I do know one thing from just the first day of living in Delhi. When Ashwin and I got up from our three hours of sleep, we were sweating. The daily hyper excessive perspiration that will accompany our journey together will be a common theme throughout my blog posts.