From New Zealand to Mumbai: A Global Intern's Story

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AIC Internships

An academic internship abroad can be one of the most significant career boosters and professionally developing experiences. Hear from Global Intern Amosa, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Amosa had the opportunity to work on several projects during his time abroad covering a variety of topics. Below, he tells us a little about his time in Mumbai with his internship at Doctors For You.

My Internship in Mumbai with Doctors For You

There is no single word that can describe my experience during my time abroad and at my internship in Mumbai. All in all, I would have to say it has been crazy, hectic, full-on, exciting, amazing and… delicious! There is a certain allure that the beautiful people, culture and communities have that truly fills me with happiness, joy and wonder. Experiencing a world that is not my own has opened up my eyes to many things that I know I will carry with me for the rest of my career.

I have learnt a lot from being here at Doctors For You (DFY). I have seen the inside workings of an NGO and I must say – wow… it is not easy. A lot of cogs must work together in synchrony in order to bring about the best results that are needed, allowing us to provide the right care to those who are very under-privileged and under-served.

The internship at DFY has been a really great experience and I know that these experiences, I will keep with me for a long time as I take the lessons I have learnt back to my home countries. I have grown both as an individual and as a team member. I have learned that the best way to be productive and get work done is to be proactive and take initiative. Time is of the essence and great work can be done in a small amount of time if one just plans a few steps ahead.

PHOTO Optometry and Ophthalmology with Dr. Himika Gupta and Hiral Gajra!

I kicked off my first day with an unofficial but really awesome and exciting part of my internship at DFY – shadowing Dr. Himika Gupta and Hiral at a few paediatric hospitals around Mumbai. Dr. Himika Gupta is a very animated woman that I had the pleasure of meeting right off the bat on my first day. She is Assistant Professor in Ophthalmology at MGM Medical College and Univeristy and is also an Ocular Oncologist and Oculoplasty surgeon at the Krishna Eye Centre in Mumbai. I felt a very warm vibe from her when I met her as she took me under her wing, and allowed me to follow her around eagerly with all the questions I had to ask about optometry and ophthalmology and what eyecare was like in India. The environment she works in is fast-paced and quite exciting for me to see, and I was so fortunate that she was happy for me to follow her around and poke and prod her mind on many things.

It was quite hectic on this day as she was jumping between hospitals – one moment seeing regular patients at one hospital, the next moment she could be in a taxi cab on her way to a different hospital where she would perform surgery. On this particular day she was scheduled to perform a very rare surgery and, lucky for me, she pulled a few strings and had me scrub-up and observe her amazing team of neurosurgeons, anaesthetists and so on, in the operating room. Up until this point I had never been in an operating room, let alone one in a place so far from home such as Mumbai.

Photo for blog post From New Zealand to Mumbai: A Global Intern's Story

I sat back and watched the team do their thing. They clearly knew each other very well, and appeared a tight-knit group from the laughs and smiles they had going on, even in the operating room. They were all very friendly and I was happy to have met them. Each person of the team had their own role and job to perform, and it was quite refreshing to see how efficient people moved and how streamlined things were. 

On this day, I also had the opportunity to shadow an optometrist named Hiral Gajra. Hiral is the only optometrist at a certain paediatric hospital in Mumbai. She did a fellowship training in binocular vision, and so I was very excited to meet her as this was also an area that I have a strong interest in. She, like Dr. Himika Gupta, is a very busy woman who sees many patients around the ward, daily. Also like Dr. Himika Gupta, she is a friendly and warm person that I bonded well with at our first meeting. She has a bubbly personality with a lovely smile and I was truly glad I got to her meet her. Hiral showed me around to one of the wards she frequents, as well as to her low vision and binocular vision clinic where she rehabilitates and helps train people with visual disabilities and binocular vision anomalies.

In the wards, I was able to see some unique pathology that I had only ever seen in textbooks and lecture slides. I was also blown away by some of the things that Hiral showed me in her clinics. Hiral has a very innovative and creative mind. She has designed some of her own unique, and inexpensive ways of assessing and training binocular vision abnormalities. It was amazing to see because it utilised all of the same principles that I learnt back in in NZ in my lectures. It showed me how you do not really need the fancy equipment as long as you have some intuition, a good understanding of the science, and creative ability.

Photo for blog post From New Zealand to Mumbai: A Global Intern's Story

Pictured above, I am standing next to a vision training apparatus that Hiral put together. These lights help to train vision and motor integration in patients who may have some cortical impairment or some visual disability. A patient will stand about 2-3 m away with a flashlight and the aim is for them to follow one of the lights with the flashlight. This will help us understand how a person os processing visual input, and how this gets integrated into motor movement. This is unlike anything I have seen back home and it truly filled me with joy to see the beautiful colours and the ways Hiral has made vision training fun and exciting.

In just one day, covering over two hospitals, I was able to see a lot of optometry. In many ways, our practices in NZ are similar to those I have seen in Mumbai. But in many ways, there are also beautiful and unique ways that things differ. I believe the differences come, not only from the certain situations and circumstances that must be adapted to and overcome, but also from the differences in approach of the individual. Just because there are standard ways of doing things, it does not mean that those are the only ways to do things. Shadowing Hiral and Himika has shown me the value of creative ability, intuitiveness, and being able to adapt to situations!

My experience at DFY has been truly tremendous. I have gained so much knowledge and new insights in to many things that my brain is still trying to categorise and process everything that I have seen, experienced and tasted. I am so grateful that I had got the opportunity to be an intern in Mumbai and at Doctors For You. I never realised how much work NGOs do and the level of planning, commitment, and team work that is required to bring care up to the standard that we need it to be. I have also learned valuable lessons of team work – many hands truly make light work. The importance of having a good team with you that you truly blend well with must never underestimated. The knowledge I have gained here is immense and I have grown so much as a team member and personally as an individual.

Thank you Doctors For You and AIC!

Photo for blog post From New Zealand to Mumbai: A Global Intern's Story

As the custom internship division of CIEE, for more than 35 years, we have built an exceptional track record of matching students to internship experiences offering rich opportunities for growth in a wide range of fields—from financial services and marketing to healthcare, technology, and the environment. Intern placements are based on how each student’s aspirations, skills, and experience can benefit them as an intern abroad, as determined through an individual pre-placement meeting. While each internship is unique, every program combines cultural, academic, and professional development opportunities to allow students to achieve personal growth and competitive advantage in the global workforce.