Brenna Bartkowicz

Major: Dietetics
Class: Graduate
Timeframe: October 2017- November 2017
Type of Experience: Dietetic Internship
Destination: Ghana

Overall Experience

Overall, my experience in Ghana was one that I will never forget. I was able to immerse myself in a different culture, work with others from around the US as well as Ghanaians, and made friendships that will last a lifetime. We had the chance to work in different communities and meet a lot of people who welcomed us with open arms. In Ghana, we were able to expand our professional skills and demonstrate teamwork while completing an assignment and creating an intervention. Even with all the work we had to do during the internship, we were able to explore many attractions in Ghana including Boti Falls, Elmina Slave Castle, and a canopy walk at Kakum National Park.

Learning experience

The most valuable learning experience from this whole trip was the intervention we provided to the communities, called a durbar. We were able to provide education to the women and community leaders to help improve the health status of the children and the community. After we provided the education, we received direct feedback from the community about what they learned and how they can implement changes that we suggested in their daily lives. From this experience, I learned that not everyone in the world will have the same education we have, even on something important such as water sanitation and healthy eating. We were able to share our knowledge and that is something that I will always remember when working with future clients and patients of mine- as dietitians, we are there to share and spread knowledge so others gain knowledge as well.

Memorable experience

I can't pick one certain memorable experience from my time in Ghana. I had such a unique experience that I never could have imagined. I think the most memorable part of the trip was the friendships I made during the experience. We were all interns from different parts of the world who came together and had the chance to experience Ghana and all it had to offer together. We spent the whole month as a group so we learned a lot about each other and through our excursions and project, we bonded quickly.

What did you not expect?

Something that surprised me while in Ghana was the fact that the culture was so together and group oriented. For example, in hospitals, there were no individual rooms for patients but group rooms separated by gender. This really exemplified that the culture was used to being with others and that if they were alone, even if in a hospital, it would not be normal. This might change how I approach the profession of dietetics in the future by how I work with others of different cultures. I have gained more understanding about different cultures and their norms, which will help me later on in my professional career.

What advice would you give?

Advice for other students who want to have a similar experience that I did would be to participate in all that you can. From this experience, I learned more than I could have imagined and I know that I would not have the knowledge I do now if I did not go to Ghana. The world is a big place and if you have the opportunity to experience other cultures, you should take it!

How has this experience impacted your life?

This experience has impacted my life in many ways. I had the opportunity to experience a brand new culture, work with a variety of people from different backgrounds, and had the chance to further my professional skills. I was able to learn more about nutritional issues in a different area of the world and approaches that professionals take to help solve these issues. This trip helped me meet my goals of collaborating with others on a big project and helped me make an impact on peoples lives. My time in Ghana also provided me with a different experience from other potential job applicants when applying for jobs because I was able to have such a unique learning experience while abroad that I can apply in future practice.

How did you learn about this experience?

I first learned about this international opportunity when I was in an undergrad class at Iowa State. ISU Dietetic Interns came to talk to our class to talk about their internship experiences and one of the interns was participating in the International Rotation in Ghana. After first hearing about the program, I kept it in mind when looking at different internships to apply for.

International Connections