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Diva Speaks: Summer Fellowship 2023



As an aspiring obstetrician-gynecologist and a first generation Nepali-American, I’ve always been passionate about women’s health, especially in Nepal. Being a part of Pad2Go’s first cohort of summer fellows in 2023 was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore my interests while connecting with my heritage and giving back to my country.

Summers are a time for experiential learning, exploring possible career paths, and figuring out who you are as a person without the confines of homework and tests. Even more daunting than a full course load is figuring out what the best summer opportunity is for you and your future career. Whether it be applying for research, an internship, volunteering, or even a part time job, the summer application process is always a stressful one. Last January I found myself in a state of uncertainty about my summer plans. I knew that I didn’t want to spend the summer in a lab (as I had in prior years). I wanted a brand new experience that would allow me to deeper explore my own interests in women’s health. 


This is where Pad2Go comes in!  Pad2Go is an young women founded and run organization to usher in a future where menstrual stigma is eradicated in Nepal, and the perfect solution to my summer opportunity dilemma. I feel so fortunate to have been provided the opportunity to work with and learn from such an amazing group of like-minded individuals while furthering my own career, and I am hopeful that my experiences can help guide and encourage you to do the same.

 

What is the Summer Fellowship Program with Pad2Go?

The Summer Fellowship Program with Pad2Go provides an extraordinary opportunity for individuals interested in women's health, period poverty, and the eradication of menstrual stigma. Tailored to address these crucial issues in Nepal, the program empowers participants to step outside their comfort zones and actively contribute to meaningful projects. While each summer experience will be unique, some examples of work that fellows engaged in this following year include impactful initiatives such as installing pad vending machines in schools and conducting workshops on menstrual hygiene. This program not only offers valuable experiences in the field but also fosters a deeper connection to the cultural nuances of Nepal by spending the summer living in Nepal. For those considering this fellowship next year, it promises a transformative journey of personal growth and a chance to make a tangible difference in women's health advocacy in Nepal.

Will I be paid to work with Pad2Go during the summer?

While working with Pad2Go during the summer is a highly rewarding experience, it is important to note that this position is not paid through Pad2Go but through other available external funds. As a small organization, Pad2Go directs all available funds directly towards its mission of eradicating menstrual stigma in Nepal. Jesselina, co-founder of Pad2Go, encouraged me to explore external funding opportunities, emphasizing Pad2Go's belief in compensating everyone for their time and work. 


Following her guidance, I proactively sought out grants and discovered that my college, Wellesley College, had grants specifically for students pursuing unpaid internships. I applied for and received the Wei Chu Chao Endowed Fund for International Internships through the Wellesley Career Education Grants Program. For those considering applying for this fellowship or similar opportunities, I highly recommend exploring grants and funding sources at your own institutions. If your institution doesn't offer such grants, there are various resources like Cappex, goabroad.com, studyabroad.com, Internationalscholarships.com, IEFA, and CIEE Global Scholarships and Grants. A quick online search will reveal a wealth of funding options for international internships, requiring just a bit of effort to uncover and apply to. Additionally, Pad2Go is happy to help you navigate the experience of finding and applying for external funding. Your grant will help cover travel, stay, remuneration and more!

What do the fellows do and learn during the fellowship?

During the Pad2Go fellowship, participants embark on a multifaceted exploration of women's health and the eradication of menstrual stigma in Nepal. The Pad2Go fellowship will encompass various projects, and participants will have flexibility to tailor their roles in these projects based on their own career interests. For example, with my specific interest in menstrual health, I was involved in the Sarlahi project. We traveled to rural Sarlahi, part of the Madhesh Province, and conducted menstrual health workshops in rural schools, providing hands-on education on topics like pad application, menstrual hygiene, and challenging societal misconceptions. Additionally, we installed pad vending machines in each school  and used these workshops to dispel menstrual taboos among co-ed student groups. The scope of projects may differ year to year- for example, another project that I was involved in this year was a new initiative called the Period in Prison campaign. The campaign addresses the lack of menstrual products in Nepal’s prisons, and reflects the organization's dynamic approach to addressing diverse aspects of menstrual health and stigma with the prisons of Nepal. This experiential learning equips each fellow with a unique understanding of the nuanced challenges surrounding menstrual stigma in Nepal.

How does it help the fellows personally and professionally?

The Pad2Go fellowship provides a transformative experience that profoundly impacts individuals both personally and professionally. On a personal level, participants gain a deeper knowledge of communities in Nepal, their specific practices, and challenges surrounding menstrual health and societal attitudes through experiential learning. Projects like the Sarlahi project push fellows beyond their comfort zones, promoting leadership and communication skills, cultural awareness, and providing the opportunity to travel and meet young Nepali people across the country.

Professionally, the fellowship equips individuals with valuable skills in project management, public speaking, and community engagement. Additionally, actively contributing to impactful initiatives, such as conducting workshops and implementing projects, fosters leadership and teamwork skills. Through this fellowship, I learned to communicate complex medical topics not only in my mother tongue, but also in an accessible and easily understandable way for elementary age students. This unique skill will be extremely valuable in patient education and communication for me as a future doctor.  Working with Pad2Go offers a unique perspective on global health challenges and advocacy, enhancing participants' ability to address complex issues in their future professional endeavors. Overall, the Pad2Go fellowship not only contributes to eradicating menstrual stigma in Nepal but also serves as a catalyst for personal growth and the development of a diverse skill set with broad applications in the professional realm.

How do I apply for the fellowship? Do I need prior experience in the sector?

The fellowship opens every year on the 1st of February and applications are open for 3 weeks. An application link can be found on Pad2Go's Linktree/LinkInBio or on the Pad2Go instagram page. Pad2Go encourages the development of young professionals, so there is no need to submit a CV or a Resume. Instead, Pad2Go looks for passionate and dedicated people who are willing to rise to the challenge. The application consists of a few short questions, and the team will reach out to you if your application stands out.


You are not expected to have any prior experience in the sector, but any relevant experience is always an added bonus! Make sure to speak from your heart, showcase your enthusiasm, and highlight what you uniquely bring to the table when filling out the application.




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Jan 17
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Sounds super interesting!

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