Danait Yemane, SIT International Honors Program

Danait Yemane is a senior Public Health major who studied abroad the spring of her junior year on the SIT International Honors Program (IHP: Health & Community) focusing on Global Health in the United States, Brazil, India, and South Africa. Danait was able to fund her semester abroad from the Bass scholarship. Read about her experience below.

Danait’s Experience

To give you a glimpse of what my semester was like, it was absolutely surreal.

We made a joke on our program that it takes a certain type of student to do IHP because
this is one of the most physically and mentally challenging programs a student can
pursue. IHP forced me to reexamine my worldviews and perspectives as I traveled
through several distinct communities. Over the course of five months, we visited three
completely different continents, countries, cities, and cultures as we learned about their
unique societies from a public health lens. It was exhilarating and to be frank, very
exhausting at the same time. Each day was filled with so many learning experiences and
questions. I actually felt like “the world” was my classroom. The nature of our program
also forced us to be extremely flexible as we constantly shifted places from day to day,
and met with local activists, practioners, and community members for class to hear their
stories and learn about the public health systems in their respective countries firsthand.
Along with our fluid academic schedules, we also conducted personal research projects
that spanned each of the countries we visited. My research project was on evaluating the
maternal child health practices on an urban and rural level in India, South Africa, and
Brazil and comparing my findings to our system in place in the US.

Danait at the Taj Mahal

As a public health major here at Hopkins, it was truly eye opening to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of each system and analyze how we can potentially incorporate aspects of each to improve our own. Aside from this field-based learning environment, we also had the freedom to explore each country independently. After a long day of class, I was so excited to spend the rest of my time discovering new parts of each country with my peers and interacting with locals who became both personal tour guides and friends. It’s crazy to think that just this time last year, I was learning about the implications of the caste system on the health of Indian women and then casually spent the weekend on the India/Nepal border as our group rode elephants and explored a rural town called Bahraich…Yes, that really did happen. Time flies…

“As a low-income first generation student here at Hopkins, the financial support [the Bass family] afforded me to pursue this program has helped shape my college experience in more ways than I could ever articulate.”

I could tell countless stories about my semester abroad with IHP but I want to conclude
by saying that this trip will forever hold a place in my life as one of the most fulfilling
experiences I’ve ever had. I not only gained an in-depth global perspective about my
passion for public health but I also formed life-long friendships with peers from across
the US, and our hosts in each country. I have people I can proudly call family on almost every continent now.