Suzanne Lewis - 2012 Program Participant

Vietnamese woman and American woman

Vi, my translator and I

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I wanted international public health experience. I had been working as a nurse for six years, including living in Germany the prior two years. So to combine my love for travel and health, I wanted a unique international public health experience and ELI had so many amazing programs to choose from.

Why did you choose ELI in Vietnam?

I wanted to go to Vietnam and liked the program goals. My father, like many of his generation, has served in the Army during the Vietnam War and I really wanted to see how the country had changed and spend time getting to know the people. Thus, I chose a program in Da Lat, which is more rural and offered a better chance of seeing how the locals live and seek medical care.

What was your favorite part about Da Lat?

Da Lat was a scenic and mild temperature town in the mountains. I loved it! It was big enough that there were things to do but also small enough that I could get to know the community too.  I was near a famous house and was able to give tourists instructions on how to get there.

What makes ELI’s medical internships in Da Lat unique?

I loved working with Vi, my translator. We became friends and I enjoyed her company. I couldn't have done it without her. I also know this experience was only possible with a translator and with an inside source (ELI) to help set it up. I understand that volunteer opportunities can't be free because there are resources involved and I trust that I received the best possible assistance I could.

Medical intern with local staff in Vietnam

The staff and I

How supportive was local staff throughout your internship?

They were mostly supportive. The women working at the clinic were great, as well as the doctor who let me shadow in her appointments.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Probably not stayed as long honestly. Three and a half weeks was a bit much, two weeks would have been fine.

Describe a day in the life of your program.

I worked about three hours in the morning and the same in the afternoon. We had a long lunch, when Vi and I would get lunch. The work included blood draws, vaccines, and shadowing the doctors. They opened a new clinic while I was there so I witnessed the ceremony to bless the new facility, which was very interesting.

What is your most memorable moment from your time in Vietnam?

I enjoyed my time with Vi, my translator, and learning more about medicine in Vietnam.

What was your favorite activity outside of your internship duties?

Walking around the town and doing different weekend excursions, like hiking and biking.

Where did you stay during your internship in Da Lat? How did you like it?

I was at a local hotel which was very nice, but there was a tennis court that people would often play at very early so that was sometimes annoying.

Child receiving medical treatment in Vietnam


What should every intern know about your program?

Every intern should know to go in with an open mind and no set expectations to ensure the most enjoyable experience.

Now that you're home, how has interning abroad in Vietnam impacted your life?

I completed an MPH with a global health certificate because I do love this type of work. I have since done research project in Nepal and am currently traveling for four months in South America.

If you could intern abroad again, where would you go?

I would love to return to Nepal. I also would like to work on my Spanish so I could go on a medical program to a Spanish-speaking country.