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Filled With Cute Babies by Hamsika C. '13

The story of my IAP in India.

MIT students love to make change happen. This could be in the form of a classroom project, a cool new toy, an internship with MISTI, participating in competitions like MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition or IDEAS/Global Challenge, or even dropping out of MIT to accept a Thiel Fellowship and join “the next generation of tech visionaries.”

Perhaps this isn’t so surprising. When applying to MIT three years ago (it’s been 3 years already?!?!), this was the page I took to heart: The Match Between You and MIT. Among other things, this page says:

  • Opportunities abound at MIT, but they must be seized. For those students who take initiative – who take advantage of what’s around them – MIT’s resources are unparalleled.

So true. MIT has produced a number of Rhodes Scholars, Gates Scholars, Truman Scholars, and so on – but more than that, it’s created a population that strives to make the world better in some small (or big!) way. Looking back on my two and a half years here, I am most proud of my accomplishments outside the classroom, particularly my work with the MIT Public Service Center.

In my ‘Two Videos’ entry from December, I briefly mentioned that I would be going to India over IAP, working with AIM for Seva (a non-profit organization that has constructed schools and hospitals all over India, primarily for those who cannot afford education or healthcare) and Embrace (a social enterprise that was founded at Stanford and has developed a low-cost infant warmer to prevent neonatal mortality due to hypothermia). Well, I’m back now, done with my project report, and ready to share my experiences with all of you.

(Sidenote: if you’d rather just read my report/see pictures and not hear me ramble on, follow this link)

I peaced out of MIT about two hours after my last final exam, jumped on a plane, and flew from Boston to New York, New York to Dubai (where I met up with my mom), and Dubai to Ahmedabad. Half-asleep, I then got in a taxi and drifted in and out of slumber during the two-hour ride from Ahmedabad’s airport to the small village of Shamlaji, wherein Shamlaji Hospital – my project site – was located.

The goal of my project in India was to introduce the Embrace infant warmer to doctors/nurses at the Shamlaji Tribal Hospital, train them on the use of the technology, and collect data on each and every infant that was placed inside the warmer. As a Tamil-speaker, I struggled with language barriers at the hospital, where most individuals only knew Gujarati and/or Hindi. Fortunately, one of the nurses could speak English and graciously translated for me throughout my trip. Whenever she wasn’t around, however, I used a crazy combination of facial expressions, hand gestures, and rudimentary Hindi gleaned from watching Indian movies. Half the time, I gave up and broke into giggles, amused by how ridiculous my communication fail was.

After about three weeks at Shamlaji Hospital, I traveled back to the tribal hospital I went to last year, in Anaikatti – a small town in southern India. I checked out the results of my project last year (a training class for nurses regarding first aid techniques and basic English phrases), as well as the new equipment that the hospital was able to purchase in the past year. Following this, I flew back to Boston, where, as you already know, I went to LeaderShape in an extremely jet-lagged state, turned 21, and spent the last two weeks of IAP relaxing.

The reason I wanted to write this entry is to show you all that MIT truly opens doors for its students and encourages innovation and creativity in a number of different ways. After I submitted my project proposal, I received guidance and funding from MIT’s Public Service Center, the Baker Foundation, and the Kelly-Douglas Fund – all of whom had suggestions for how I could make my project even better.

Anywayyy. I feel like there are too many words in this entry. I’m going to stop talking now. ‘Til next time! There’s an awesome guest blog coming your way :)

3 responses to “Filled With Cute Babies”

  1. sasha says:

    wow, how cool!
    i didn’t know you had direct involvement with the Embrace project — that’s awesome smile

  2. akash says:

    Finally….smile I have been waitin to read your blog on this topic for so long…
    These mit blogs are very coool, as it not only helps prospective mit students but also inspires people to do something in lyf… I am really amazed by the things which you have done in past 2.5 years along with ur curriculum…. Thank you for inspiring…. smile waitin for more…

  3. Linh V. '13 says:

    dude, you are freaking amazing! I miss you so much!