Joel Adu-Brimpong, study abroad: Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Berlin, Germany

Thanks to generous funding from PICS, I was able to embark on a study abroad. The program was geared around social justice issues—juvenile justices, human and sex trafficking, and art as an avenue for community revitalization. It was enlightening to see how various policies (and the values and ideologies embedded in them) have real and differing social impact. One of the most memorable moments I experienced on the trip was the opportunity to visit a refugee-housing unit in Berlin. We were able to sit down and talk with foreigners seeking refuge, learning of the situations that drove them to leave their home countries, their current provisions, and plans to return to their home countries. It was troubling and humbling to hear the different experiences and hardships accrued by each of the members— stories of discrimination, medical maltreatment, and lack of opportunities among many others. One of the most resounding statements came during a brief conversation with a man seeking refuge: I am a refugee of this country because I can’t even live in my own country in peace.  This statement often creeps into my consciousness, especially amidst recent plights in Syria and migration to Europe. Although an insightful and memorable endeavor, none of it would have been possible without the generous grant from PICS. I hope future students are able to benefit from the fellowship like I did. The reward is not only in its monetary value, but also in the priceless experiences of a new place, new culture, and new opportunities to learn and serve.


Elisabeth Brennen, study abroad: European Union Summer Program

I had the opportunity to participate in an intensive study abroad program based out of Brussels, Belgium. I studied the political structure of the European Union (EU) with 20 other students, visiting EU institutions and meeting with representatives of the European Parliament, Council, and other sectors. In addition, we met with representatives of non-governmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Payoke, and the International Federation of Journalists. The trip was rewarding, enriching, and inspiring. It gave me a wonderful educational experience, and the pleasure of experiencing it all with a group of students I might otherwise never have met. This experience would not have been possible without the generous donations and grants from my community at home, including the support of the Program in International and Comparative Studies. The generous PICS study abroad grant helped pay for more than one-third of my final costs, and the financial freedom it provided allowed me to spend a week travelling after the program, visiting Amsterdam and Stockholm.


Megan Cansfield, internship in Guangzhou, China, with the U.S. Consulate

I completed a ten-week, unpaid internship with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China, with the financial assistance of PICS summer internship & research funding. As the first professional role in my field of international relations and my first direct experience with intended future employer, this internship provided a multitude of beneficial opportunities that have facilitated significant personal and professional growth.
My internship was within the consular section of the Guangzhou Consulate, and involved splitting my time between two sub-sections for five weeks each: the Immigrant Visas section and the Fraud Prevention Unit.  Each part of my internship taught me valuable lessons and gave me unparalleled insights and experiences. I especially enjoyed developing new skills and refining established skills by tackling projects in a professional context. For example, I was able to improve my project management skills and independently apply my research skills in a different way from my typical schoolwork by singlehandedly designing and completing my own data collection and statistical analysis study for the first time. However, as an unpaid intern having to bear all related costs, these experiences and lessons certainly did not come without difficulty. Between flights, visa fees, housing, transportation, and daily living expenses, it cost me approximately $3000 to complete my internship. What truly made this enriching experience possible for me was the generous support of the PICS summer internship funding to cover these costs.  Therefore, I am immensely grateful for this internship scholarship and all the doors that it has opened up for me to pursue my future professional path.


Alexander Goggins, (2015 Longwoods Fellow) internship and research: Brazil

During my time in the Hospital do Rim e Hipertensão (HRIM) in São Paulo, I had the opportunity to gain valuable insight into a different health care system, in addition to conducting a small research project in a foreign country. For the internship portion of my stay, I was attached to different groups of doctors and residents each week. First, I worked with the procurement team, a group of doctors tasked with finding potential donors (both living and deceased). For the second week, I stayed in the postoperative wing of the hospital. The third week, I was attached to the long-term outpatient clinic, and for the fourth week, I was attached to the infectious disease specialist, who handles any post-transplant infections that may threaten the immunosuppressed patient or the graft. The internship portion of the stay was a fantastic opportunity to highlight the differences between the American and Brazilian health care systems. In Brazil, everyone is granted free universal health care. Being a public hospital, the vast majority of patients treated at HRIM had this public healthcare, with the private healthcare recipients going to the private hospitals in the city. This research was an incredible experience that helped me to gain a sense of how to write and conduct a retrospective clinical study. But of course, none of this work could have been made possible if it were not for the funding from PICS. The incredible help and support I received was essential, allowing me to push my boundaries and to experience living and working in a foreign country on my own.


Yoolim Jung, Korea-Michigan Human Rights Fellowship

As an International Studies major, I found the Korea-Michigan Human Rights Fellowship to be an invaluable experience that further stimulated my passion for Korean studies and human rights issues. During my stay in Korea, I attended Professor Jeong-Woo Koo’s class “Human Rights across Borders” at Sungkyunkwan University. By doing so, I had an opportunity to participate in thought-provoking discussions and meet new friends. Furthermore, the class was a great supplement to Professor Melanie Tanielian’s “Theory and Practice of Human Rights” course at U-M.  Outside of class, I researched human rights issues related to the use of chemical castration to punish sex offenders in Korea.  Although I didn’t get to obtain as much information as I hoped to, I learned that chemical castration under the Korean judicial system is vaguely positioned between treatment and punishment, thus, raising flags of human rights violations due to a lack of consent and medical ethics revolving  around the procedure. Overall, I had an amazing time in Korea, and am grateful to Social Science Korea Human Rights Forum at Sungkyunkwan University and the International Institute's Human Rights Initiative at University of Michigan for giving me a wonderful opportunity.


Quan Nguyen, study abroad: India

As a PICS student who concentrates in global health and the environment, studying abroad in India allowed me to envision my future as a global public health analyst. This country showed me how culture affects healthcare facilities settings. For instance, when a patient enters a government hospital in Delhi, it is typical to see family members sitting on tarps or blankets and camping out in the hospital hallways for days while waiting for their loved one to recover in the inpatient unit. Because the extended family household is still the predominant model of living in India, I saw up to six family members in the waiting area for every one patient. Even though it is very rare to see this in the U.S., this example caused me to think about the accommodation for a culture. My experience in India this past summer gave me the opportunities to work with people of different disciplines— as well as different cultures. Our groups, including the nursing students at the Salokaya College, bonded well with each other. The round table discussions enabled me to practice my collaborative working skills as I will most likely attend many meetings regarding healthcare in the future.  As an international study major, India put what I learned at the university into perspective. This trip has truly reaffirmed my passion in international healthcare accessibility projects and in joint efforts with other organizations to better peoples’ well-being.