By Riley Hiscocks
Laura Millage, junior in microbiology and genetic with a minor public healthgained valuable knowledge during his eight weeks in Botswana as part of the International Educational Exchange Council program, which is a partner of the Iowa State University Study Abroad Program.
Located in Southern Africa, Gaborone, Botswana is home to the University of Botswana where Millage participated in the Community Health Program along with 22 other students from different US universities.
“During my time at university, I took public health courses where we learned about the health system in Botswana, as well as experienced it in a clinical setting. a Setswana language course,” Millage said. “For the clinics, we spent over 50 hours at four different local clinics both inside the city and in a nearby village shadowing a variety of healthcare professionals. In addition, our group and medical students from the university conducted a community assessment and organized a health exhibition in a rural village.”
Hoping to go to medical school, Millage said her summer in Botswana gave her greater passion and motivation for her future studies and career in the medical field.
“Being able to experience how a different country does healthcare and see how their healthcare system works was amazing. Of course, it’s not the same as in the United States, but I really believe that the country uses its resources as efficiently as possible,” said Millage. “One of the biggest surprises was that they don’t use digital or electronic medical records. Everything is done on paper and it is the responsibility of the patient to follow his file.
When Millage wasn’t in a classroom or clinical setting, she was able to explore all that Botswana had to offer. Their favorite destination was located in Kasane where the group of students visited Victoria Falls and interacted with the locals.
“The people I interacted with during my time in Africa were some of the kindest and most inclusive people I have ever met. I appreciate how they take their time with tasks and don’t live their life by constantly racing against the clock,” said Millage.
She also had the opportunity to experience Gabronoe and Mokolodi Game Reserves, Khama Rhino Sanctuary and Chobi National Park, and learn about the country’s culture at Bahurutshe Cultural Village.
“Overall the experience was amazing and gave me the opportunity to learn more about another part of the world and its people, health, medicine and science, but also about myself “, she said.