My name is Claire Aurand and I had the opportunity to work at CEMANUD (Centro Municipal de Atención en Nutrición y Diabetes), which is a government project in the city of Mérida that provides free services to the population focusing in nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. I’m 21 years old from Washington State and I study Biochemistry and Public Health at Roanoke College. 

I decided to come to Mérida and do the internship program because I have a research project based in nutrition and obesity. I heard from my professor there was an opportunity in Mérida and decided to take it. I was able to continue my research on nutrition and obesity in Mérida observing the different services they provide, participating in some of the activities and interviewing patients, nutritionists and participants. Overall the three weeks gave me more than I expected and I had a great experience.

I learned a lot of things while in Mérida. Professionally I learned about public health and health in general and how it is different from one place to another. I think each country has different needs depending on the people. I now know more about public health in Mérida and how different it is from the United States. Some things here in Mérida are free and from where I come from nothing is free! I also noticed patients here want to get better and improve their life conditions, while in the U.S. people don’t want to change their lifestyle. Here they have free dining halls that offer lunch, which is great.

After this experience I understand each place has different needs and you can’t force that. Each country needs to establish its own measures, México needs something different from the U.S.

What I liked the most about this experience was being able to go to the dining halls, participate in the summer course, help with the meals, consultations and observe many different things. I loved the city, the people in general and the people I worked with, they were always very kind to me.

If I would do it again I wouldn’t change a thing, I would just like to know more institutions that work in the same field to know how they function.

I would recommend this program because it’s different than the rest. You’d have the great opportunity to know organizations and get to work with them, with the people and also travel with a group from your university.