Many people ask how exactly I got to India for the first time and “Why India?”. I have had a fascination with India since I learned about it in middle school and, when I was a 20 year old college student, I couldn't think of anywhere else I could survive on what I currently had in my savings account.
So, how exactly did I, an inexperienced college student orchestrate a move half-way across the world? ...
It’s the end of November 2014. I am a sophomore at App State, studying to be a business major and hating every minute of it. I’m not failing anything, but I’m just genuinely unhappy with my choice in major-even my choice to attend college-and overall dealing with some heavy emotional burdens which I will divulge in later posts.
I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, and I had no idea who “I” really was. How was I supposed to be dedicating four years and thousands of dollars to something I didn't even think I wanted?? Am I just supposed to do it because it was the next logical step? So then I can graduate and do a job I don't enjoy to make money to pay off a debt that I only got trying to get said unenjoyable job???
One day, I was walking through the Student Union when I came across a poster that said, “Where Would You Want To Work?” It was overtop a giant map of the world with pins poked into dozens of countries. My eyes narrowed in on one spotless country. I said to the girl hosting the poster, “Put a pin in India for me!” She looked at me. “Really India?” “Yes, thank you.” I walked away thinking how true it was. Yes India, how I have dreamed of going there for years.
That night I really looked at myself in the mirror. I saw a tired, sad face looking back and I asked it, “Are you happy? ...No. “Are you excited to go into the world of business?” ...No. “What do you want, what would make you excited?” “...India!” I said out loud, and I saw a smile brighten my eyes for the first time in a while...
And for this impulsive, ADHD-fueled young adult, that was convincing enough for me. I was going to move to India!
I went to the vast portal of all things (Google) and hunted for internships in New Delhi, India. I found one within a week. It took about three weeks to wrangle up a visa. I finished my last final exams and withdrew from University the next day. I sold my stuff out of my dorm to make extra money. I located a place to stay using one of the many Indian flatmate facebook groups. I bought a one-way ticket and January 1, 2015, I was on my way to India!
Eight hours in to a 16 hour flight, I think the reality began to trickle in. We hit turbulence over the Atlantic, and I shook with panic. The adorable Indian auntie sitting next to me took my hand and said, “Don’t worry, child. If we go down, nothing to do anyway.” Somehow, this did not bring the intended comfort. However, it did bring the realization that, yes, there is nothing to do and I’m on a plane to India by myself and I don’t know a soul there.
I survived the turbulent flight. We began the final descent to Delhi and excitement turned to shock as our plane sunk past the brown clouds of thick smog... Where am I???
I was then met with a chill in the breezeway-wait, it gets cold here? A jolt of panic rushed through me as I realized that my poorly-researched plan overlooked the fact that I may actually need a jacket... in India.
I waited in the endless visa line with hundreds of people. I looked up as I heard, “You, too, please come.” I saw a light-skinned Middle Eastern family in front of me at the desk, but I proceeded as commanded. “Give me your passport.” the officer demanded. I handed it over. “Why your surname is not same?” I looked confused. “What?” “This is your mom right?” he asked. “....Um, no?” “You are here alone?” he now looking as confused as I was. “...Um, yes?” He glared at me. “ Well Get back to the queue!” he demanded.
A hollow sinking feeling inside me as I realized that I was not this ful- fledged, badass adult that I had pumped myself up to believe. I was, indeed, still a short baby-faced girl that would most logically be traveling with her family rather than completely alone.
I made through security and stood in the chaos outside. Incessant honking, people yellow, people staring at me, so many men asking me if I needed an auto or a cab. I was bombarded and thrown into a state of shock as I realized I had no idea what my plan was.
I had no way to call anyone, and I could not use WiFi because, in India, to access free airport WiFi, you have to have an Indian cell number (or international plan, something I also overlooked in this hastily made decision)... I just had the address: “7 Sultanpur, New Delhi.” Never having looked at it until then, I doubted myself. “Wait... 7.. Sultanpur? What even is that? That can’t be the address.” I walked up to the taxi stand and showed him the address. “Oh yes, Madam. Here, take with that cab.” Two men grabbed my suitcases and ran towards a cab. I panicked and ran after them. Then I watched in horror as they threw my suitcases (literally everything I had in this world) precariously on top of a vehicle. The next thing I knew, we were whizzing down the busy streets of India doing that Delhi Traffic tango with no regard for rules or lanes. I had a death grip on the door and clung to the unlatchable seat belt to my chest.
I was so numb and dissociated during the wild ride through Delhi that I now knowI was experiencing full-blown culture-shock and genuine fear. I was literally screaming in my head, WHAT ARE YOU DOING. YOU ARE GOING TO DIE HERE over and over in my head.
I stared out the window as I tried to calm myself and what I saw on that drive to 7 Sultanpur will forever be ingrained in my brain: a toddler pooping on the side of the road, piles of dirt and trash EVERYWHERE, my first sighting of a ‘free range’ cow, and an, old auntie’s bangles tapping loudly against the window as she begged me for money.
Eventually, the cab halted in front of a building with a narrow dirt alleyway to the right. The driver said, “HERE.” He got out of the car and started getting my bags off the roof. The next thing I knew, he was gone and I was standing in the middle of nowhere with two big red suitcases and no communication ability (speech nor technology). Two men were staring holes through me as they ate chips by a little corner shop, I felt the urge to fall over and cry. “I’ll die here; I will,” I kept saying to myself.
But then, out of nowhere, I had a surge of it’s-now-or-never-girl-put-on-your-big-girl-panties-and-do-SOMETHING. Trust this is somehow the right place, just trust and go forth. I asked one of the chip men, “Excuse me, 7 Sultanpur?” He just pointed down the alley. “Brown door.” Welp, it’s now or never, Maggie and I dragged my suitcases down the rocky road to the door with a white 7 painted on it. I knocked and the door creaked open to reveal…. A car garage!
Fear yet again consumed me. Trust, I thought to myself. Trust. I pulled my suitcases through and saw a security guard in the corner. “Hello? Langlen International House?” He made no response, only a gesture to a registrar book. “I guess this is it?” I put my name down, and he quickly ascended a newly-revealed set of stairs. A moment later, another man appeared. “Welcome, welcome! We are so glad you found us okay. Come in. He will take your bags up.” I followed this man to an office and sat down. “Welcome. We are glad you have made it. Pleased to have you staying with us.
Now, as far as your stay, you will need to just pay the first rent up-front now, and we will show you to your room”. “So, Ma’am, for the month, it will just be $500 USD, and you can pay in INR or USD, whichever is easier for you.”
(Some important information: before I left, I got my bank to convert $500 USD to INR to make sure I would have enough cash to get settled and figure things out for a bit. So this is all the cash I had on me…..Now back to this snake man's office hot seat).
I told the man, “I haven’t even seen a room or the place yet. How do I know if I want to stay here for a month?” “It no matter, Ma’am. If you decide not to stay here we will refund your money.” My still-culture-shocked-but-forever-suspicious self was saying RECORD HIM this man screams SNAKE so I tapped voice record and said, “Sir, just so I am clear, you want me to pay $500 for the month in cash now, but if, say tomorrow, I do not want to stay here, you will refund my money?” He said, “Yes Madam, that is correct.” At this point I had been traveling for nearly 24 hours and my sore jetlagged body could barley process my own name let alone a rent negotiation and with no internet or phone to find any other place to go, I caved in and paid this man.... BIG mistake
As soon as I gave the money, the sham of this “organization” began to reveal itself. I was led to a small living-room space with two chairs and a table. The room to the right was shoved to the brim with two twin beds and a small wardrobe, so that one bed would need to be crawled over to access the second. Another two rooms were similar to the first. I assumed one of these lovely suites was mine. I was wrong. “Ma’am, as of this minute we do not have a room for you, but do not worry. One of our residents is moving out in two days time, and you can shift to a room then.” “Wait what you don’t have a room? Why did I pay you then??” “Please, Madam, we will find a mattress for you, and you can just stay here in this space until that time.” ….What? The living room with no privacy and no bed? The man made yet another dismissive comment and pure exhaustion overwhelmed me. I dropped into one of the chairs to process this ordeal.
I was sitting dosing in and out of sleep for about two hours. During that time, some of the current inhabitants emerged to tell me some of their horror stories of becoming essentially trapped in this situation like I had. As well as stories of theft and potential illicit activities that had been conducted. Oh, and I forgot to mention that the WiFi at this place, at that time, was broken so I still had no internet and no access to the outside world.
Eventually, a mattress was brought in and laid on the floor no pillow nor sheet, just a mattress. I was so worried about my personal safety as well as being robbed-even though there wasn’t much else to take since all my money was gone- but I still slept on top of my two suitcases. I woke up the next day to find still no WiFi and still no room. I was also terrified to go outside because A) it was big scary loud busy India; B) I had no way to secure my things; and C) I had no money (only a credit card, as I recently realized I forgot my debit card).
So for an entire day I floated in and out of panic and jet-lagged naps, starving and terrified. 3 A.M. on my second night, the WiFi kicked in! I frantically called anyone in my family and got a hold of my sister who said, “HOLY S**T, get out of there!” I said that I had been asking the man to give me my money back and that he kept refusing. Eventually we decided I should book a hotel, and come back later for the cash. I booked a cheap hotel online (which I discovered was a mere hundred feet away) and I left the next day.
When I arrived at the Hotel, I inhaled a plate of rice and then got online to contact my internship boss..I spent two days with a fellow intern looking at PGs (Which are Paying Guest accommodation where you pay to rent someone’s spare room or to share a bed in a room), but I wasn’t sure what I could afford and- to be completely honest with you all - at this time, the idea of sharing a room or a bed was a 100% not an option.
My boss offered his cousin’s apartment as temporary housing. However, It is important to mention here that this apartment was just being built. It was not finished and many things, like heat and some walls, were not set up. As it was the middle of winter I had to sleep in all my clothes every night because I had only one blanket and clothes fit mostly for summer weather not freezing 35-40 fahrenheit temps. Here is a confession: I didn't shower for more than a week when I stayed there. I believe I was in such shock about my situation that I wasn’t even functioning properly. I also couldn't stomach the thought of dumping a bucket of icy water on myself to bathe in the middle of Delhi Winter in an unheated dwelling. I did eventually bite the bullet, bravely pouring that bucket over my head until my body went into spasm and I nearly passed out. It was a horribly unsatisfying experience, but hey- at least I got kind of clean.
This temporary apartment was about 2 km (a mile) from where I worked. With no command of the local language and immense fear of being in a traffic accident in those ‘crazy’ auto-rickshaws, I chose to take a cab everyday. Looking back now I could easily have even walked this but I was still too afraid at the time to even think about walking. So I took a cab for a few days until I quickly realized this was an expensive fear driven habit that I had to quit ASAP. I was so nervous because not only did I already have no sense of direction, but there are seriously no street names- it’s just ‘blocks’ in neighborhood sections of housing! Its hard to really explain this to someone who hasn't been here, so if you are intrigued come visit! Ill show you how I learned that Greater Kailash 1 A block and Greater Kailash 2 A block are not only different but very far from each other, especially when you get dropped at the wrong one in the middle of the night and then your phone dies. But that’s a story for another time.
So after calculating the drastic difference between cabs and auto I decided to bite the bullet of my nerves and I got in my first auto ever! I got the man to agree to 100 rupees for the 2km ride to my office, which I thought was an okay price, given I had no bartering skills nor an understanding of the pricing. My current-day self is cringing that I paid this much when it was at best a 20 rupee fare, but you live and you learn. The auto driver told me he knew where to go. I believed him at first, before realizing he had absolutely no idea. This was the first but certainly not the last time this happened to me. I gripped the backseat as we whizzed around GK C-block to find my office. We spent 10 minutes driving in what was probably circles until I finally had to call my boss to get directions. I was so embarrassed when I learned that I was literally around the corner.
I was terrified of everything when I first visited India. I didn’t want to take autos anywhere or go to the store or really function. I was in shock at the drastic difference between the country I called home my whole life and this new place that I had to call home. Every day, I kept pushing myself. My comfort-zone had been demolished by culture shock, and there were no signs of new construction in sight. I had to get with the flow or get flowed over.
It took a couple months, but I finally felt like a “local”. Somehow I had successfully made a life for myself in a new country. I found a place to live, a PG in fact. A PG was not my first choic but with limited funds other options were not in my budget. I ended up in a bed sharing accommodation (which is exactly how it sounds) but I loved it! I made friends with two girls that I am to this day good friends with and I have so much love for them!
After getting settled I made many friends, had fun coworkers, joined a church, found my local grocery store, learned how to buy fruits and vegetables from my colony’s “guy” or “waalaa”, I learned how to barter and grasped the most mediocre Hindi to (at least) get by in shopping and transportation. I actually felt at home in this crazy country that I, at one point, was too afraid to venture out into. I was freaking proud of myself!
Looking back now I realize I threw my unknowning younger self into a firestorm of shock, chaos, and adversity. I was engulfed in the hot firy lava of having to tranform into a full-blown adult overnight. As painful as it was I still learned to swim. I was able to surface and ride with the currents of change instead of against them. I am more independent now than I ever Imagined someone in their mid-20’s to be. I cant thank my younger self enough for her poor planning, naive optimism, and overall guts that made this entire life changing experience possible.
*Also, an important update on the Snake Man who stole $500 from me:
During my apartment hunting, I ran into a man named Dhruv. Hoping to live with him and another person, I met with Druv at Starbucks. This 7 Sultanpur incident somehow came up. Dhruv turned out to be a lawyer (and superhero): he immediately stood up and said, “o, this is not how you will know my country! We will go there today itself!” And off we went! He marched into the Snake Man’s office and a lot of Hindi yelling insued. All I could make out was “illegal” and “license.” 30-ish minutes later, Dhruv walked up to me and said, “He will have your money here in an hour. Let’s go get some lunch.” I am not kidding. We went back and hour later, and he had my money! Dhruv: if you find yourself reading this, you did change how I know India, and I cannot ever thank you enough for your caring actions that righted the wrongs.
It was Dhruv and many of my Indian friends that helped me experienced what a communal society is. India feels like home because of the people and friends who made me feel accepted and cared for in one of the most vulnerable times of my life.
Moving away from the comforts of home is very difficult. Being away from my family and friends when Im sick in a foreign country is even more difficult. I have come down with my fourth sickness since returning to India a little over a month ago. I have been under a lot of stress since moving for a number of reasons, all for a later post. I know this has been effecting my poor immune system. Trying to remember to relaxed and remember that I can do this! But this post is about my experience with Indian Healthcare.
The healthcare system is different from the US. Coming down with a stomach bug or high fever is so common its hard to tell when you have a 24hr illness or something requiring more attention. This past illness I had was the worst yet. I had a 103 fever for 3 days and realized it may be more serious. Blessed with the knowledge of Nursing I took myself to a pathology lab and had CBC blood test done. I was able to look at the results, consult a Doctor friend on whatsapp and determine I will get a culture analysis done to see what antibiotic I need. Ive learned a lot in Nursing and I am happy to have the knowledge to help myself and my fellow Fulbrighters here as we embark on our year long adventure.
Being able to be my own advocate is crucial in the Indian health system. I cannot speak for every hospital, but based on the experiences I have had with friends here, Hospitals are really only able to a lot time to treat your symptoms and if they do not see an obvious life threatening correlation they will send you home or move on. There is a lot of overcrowding and waitlisting for rooms as it is, even in the ‘fancy’ private hospitals that they recommend expats go to.
Everyone have time for a quick-ish anecdote?
Its 2015. Im a 21 year old who moved herself to India, straight out of a business major at App State. I had been living in India for about 9 months, and was currently staying with 3 boys (Kinda like 'New Girl' haha). We were all expats living and working around Delhi. One day, one of the boys was having GI complaints of constipation and we all did not think anything of it. I, at the time, had whatever medical knowledge one gets from television and webMD. All of us decided he should just take a laxative and quit complaining about his bathroom troubles. By nightfall he seemed very uncomfortable and insisted we take him to the hospital. So we took him to Moolchand Private Hospital near our apartment. We arrived and he told them his complaint of yes “Constipation”, so without performing any tests, and honestly to my memory without any vitals, they decided to give him an…. Enema! Oh the dreaded enema the dirty word of the medical world that makes just about everyone cringe at the mention. Even as a naive 21 year old I had a good laugh with everyone else in the waiting room. So after 30 minutes (with no um ‘results’) they sent us on our merry way. I never thought anything was odd about this whole medical encounter until I really reflected on it in nursing school, but thats not the end of the medical catastrophe.
Its 4 am and my friend comes to wake me up, “Is it odd that I still haven't um gone to the bathroom?”. Now I have seen enough medical shows to know if there is one thing about enemas its that they are effective. So I knew something was amiss. He then kept telling me his stomach was cramping as well. I thought lets go to a radiological clinic (a hospital seemed to be to big deal for this). We had an ultrasound done of his abdomen but they kept saying he was fine its clear no problem, but even I could tell they weren't going over the area he was pointing to... his lower right pelvis….(even this did no send off major red flags to me). I still asked if a doctor could consult, so we waited an hour for their clinical doctor to come in. My friend began turning a bit more ghostly by this point. On exam the doctor said you know I'm not really sure. He could just be constipated but maybe it could be an appendicitis, you should just go to Max Hospital in Saket.
On arrival we went to the basement floor into the admission waiting room. And we waited. And waited. After about an hour, I went up because my friend had started looking really grim and sweaty. They took his vitals, he had a 102 fever. We were moved up to be seen. The admission doctor did a quick exam and sat down with me at the table. He said “Your friend is having an appendicitis he needs surgery, now”. Fear. The room began to sway I said “I think I am going to pass out?” Doctor said” NO, ITS AN EARTHQUAKE YOU GUYS HAVE TO GET OUT!”. I grabbed my friend's hand and helped him get up the stairs and outside. He collapsed on the lawn in front of the hospital. We waited for an all clear. 20 minutes later we were told to go back inside. But at this point my friend had turned. We wobbled into the Emergency department and that is when it happened. A blood curdling scream. It had burst. Were then working against time. A random nurse who didn't know us came by and injected my friend with something and he went to sleep.
I told a doctor where we came from and his diagnosis. We waited 2 hours for the CT scan, we were continually bumped by more severe cases. CT scan revealed a very much ruptured appendix. Now in the US, they would whisk you off to surgery and figure the rest later thanks to a law called EMTALA. But in India (at that time) there was no law that a hospital has to treat if you can't pay. So they demanded 10,000$ from my friend before the could do the surgery. My friend did not have that much money. We begged them to do the surgery now and we could figure out the money when his parents woke up back home, or if we just had more time to get that amount together. But they refused. It was the first time I had every felt like health care was a luxury and one that neither me nor my friend could afford. A service he desperately needed to survive was being held ransom by the very entity 'dedicated' to saving him. We were told then that we must leave and go to AIIMS Hospital (about a 30 minute drive). Now a couple of things. AIIMS Delhi is one of the best or arguable the best pubic hospital in India, but it also has lines swirling around every building at all times for people to get treatment (see pictures below). To my knowledge all the “rooms” are four beds grouped and separated by a curtain which means infection containment is difficult. Also even if we got to AIIMS my friend could have died waiting to be seen and reevaluated. So we had to come up with the money or my friend was going to die.
We got a hold of his boss who is an amazing man and resident Indian. He drove to the hospital (another hour passed) and was able to work out a deal, so my friend could put down a % and his company would like to speak on his ability to pay the rest. So a little over 4 hours after his appendix burst my friend goes in for surgery. It’s the longest wait of my life. What I was told was a 2 hours surgery turned into nearly 6 hours. I was convinced he died and they were trying to find out how to tell me… Eventually the doctor emerged from the double doors and with the look of pure exhaustion said “This was way worse than I had known. there was so much infection spread into his abdomen we couldn't get all of it. We have put in drains. I have to go back and finish but he will be done in 45 minutes. The nurse will let you know what room is his when we get one”. Relief met with concern as I realize all he said.
My friend came back very out of it, and I see all the tubes coming out of his stomach. It was horrifying. Such major surgery so far away from his home and his friends and family. My heart hurt for him. In India, it is required that someone stay, at all times, with the patient in the Hospital. For my friend, I was that person. Checking on him, taking him to the bathroom, checking his vitals actually preforming many of the roles a CNA in the US would perform. I was happy to help him I felt such purpose being there making sure he was staying health and healing. On a personal note, at this time I had already made plans to return to the US, I had been accepted to nursing at UNCC. This whole experience solidified in my heart on a deep level that this was without a doubt my life's passion.
My friend stayed in the hospital for 6 days. He was not given any food the whole time and was only hooked up to antibiotics and fluids. There was little to know communication from the providers about his progress. He was discharged without eating, and with two drains still attached! (for my medical folks: a penrose and a JP). His stipulation for being discharged was that he thinks he might have passed gas, and that was good enough for the Doctor there. He was, by a miracle of God’s, able to avoid major complications post-hospitilization. There were minor complications but he was able to avoid readmission. Looking back on this experience as a Nurse I am stricken with fear at how this whole case was handled and how many things could have lead to horrible complications, even death.
I have not shared this store with many people before. I only share it now because I think it paints an important picture of the contrast of healthcare systems. I will say that in 2016 India passed an act similar to our EMTALA requiring hospitals to treat patients in emergency situations. I think to myself if this is how and expat is treated how are the poor people here treated? The people with no resources to come up with 10000$. My mission is to bring my knowledge to increase advocacy for children. I will be strengthened by each personal and professional experience I have here. Many people ask "Why India?" I can never give a direct answer because truthfully it is the simple fact that I see a need and I feel called to help. I do not have all the answers, but I have passion for a population of children who are constantly being overlooked and discredited. I still have so much to learn, Hindi included, but I am a willing student. I am here to take in whatever experiences and information come along to help me grow into a strong knowledgeable culturally competent provider.
I do not own these photos they were sourced from a google Image search.
ONE MONTH IN TO HINDI!
Aside from a few days of illness (hurray for Delhi Belly!) I have spent almost 50 hours over the last 3 weeks in Hindi Classes. Monday - Friday 4 hours a day in school and 4 hours doing homework and studying. I have completely immersed myself, changing my phone into devanagari script and using duo-lingo and Rosetta stone on the weekends!
I am so happy to say I am finally able to form sentences on my own. I am even able to read and write in Hindi now. Although no where near where I need to be before the start of my research, this November, I am beyond thankful for what I have been able to accomplish so far. I have never thought of myself as a particularly language savvy person but somehow I am able to get a grasp of this very complex language. Even my instructor is impressed with how I have been able to pick up and accept new concepts that many times are counterintuitive to English concepts.
I feel like each day I push myself out of my comfort zone I discover new strength and ability. The confidence with which I can embrace all that I have faced and will face is rooted in my faith. I know God has a plan for me and when I am on the path he planned I know he will let it be known to me. I feel this ability to take on Hindi is another outstretched hand telling me this is indeed the way. This past year I have faced tumultuous times and difficult decisions, but putting my faith in 'my path' has brought me the peace I need to continue to pursue my mission to impact children and their families here in India and hopefully the world!
It has been two weeks since I landed back in India. Its my 3rd time back in this beautifully chaotic and often times smelly city of New Delhi. I began this time differently than my other journeys as I am returning this time not as an independent spirit but a scholar of a Fulbright Research grant. Not having to worry about airport transportation or where I was going to stay was a lovely experience. All the grantees were put up at a hotel here in Delhi for our 4 day orientation. I met a number of smart and talented grantees all with very specific and elaborate research interests to be conducted around India. Soon after orientation I headed down to the home I would be hosted in during my year long grant period which is conveniently located near to my Hindi School and affiliate research site.
Part of my grant pays for 180 hours of intensive language training! So my first full week back I began Hindi Classes. I have a private tutor who immediately threw me into the deep end of Hindi language. I spend 4 hours a day/5 days a week in school and have been focusing much of my free time studying. It is absolutely critical that I am able to converse in Hindi before I begin my research towards the end of November. Hindi is a completely different language that uses devanagari script instead of the roman alphabet. Having to learn a whole new alphabet and writing style has brought me down to an elementary foundation of learning. I know that time alone will be my greatest friend during this time. After my 4 hours of class I spend 2 hours doing homework. That is about 30 hours a week!
एक नई भाषा सीखो
(Learn a new Language)
Examining Health Literacy Among Families with Children having Disabilities
After working alongside families in India, both this past summer and during my first move to India, I have fully realized how different health services are revealed, explained, complied with, and utilized. I wanted to understand how families in India are receiving health information and plans of care for their child. Navigating healthcare systems as a family is difficult even with an average abled child or even a neurotypically developed child, but throwing in a complex genetic or neurologic diagnosis quickly turns difficult into almost impossible. Especially when a parent has low health literacy skills. I proposed to Fulbright a study that tell the families side of the story by observing their experiences with navigating health care providers, therapies, and public health care services offered in India.
In March of 2019, I was awarded a Fulbright Student Research Grant to return to India and completed this proposed project over the next year (Aug '19-Aug 20'). I am beyond excited to have this opportunity to return and gain a better understanding of the barrier families I work with at the clinic are facing. I plan to become a Family Nurse Practitioner and Disability Researcher. This experience from "the other side of the desk" will allow me an invaluable perspective of families trials and triumph in health care navigation.
Part of my grant is fulfilling a Critical Language Enhancement Award, to learn Hindi. I must be able to speak Hindi in order to engage with and form trust with the families participating in my study. I am very excited to spend three months of intensive study to become proficient in this new and different language. I will be posting about the beautiful process of an American learning a language with devanagari script instead of english characters... this should be quite a fun journey :)
I plan to keep this blog updated on my research progress, and I pray I am able to conduct this at a high enough proficiency to publish my results and make an impact on the world of disability advocacy as well as make an impact on the facilitation in navigating public health care systems.
My name is Maggie, but my family and friends have been calling me Dr.Mags since I started putting bandaids on my teddy bear. Now as a 25 year old, I have just received my BSN license from North Carolina. Nursing fulfills the passion I have felt for medicine and providing care to others. I began working alongside children with disabilities in high school with Rainbow Express Ministries and realized the complicated journeys many of these children and their families have to navigate that is unlike that of other acute illness. When I moved to India in 2015, I saw this same complicated health care process and the added complication of resource and knowledge deficiency surrounding disability. I am now following my heart as it guides me back to India to live and work to facilitate and advocate for early intervention services for children with special healthcare needs.