Spring 2011: My Experiences as a Global Health Leadership Intern

By Wesley Butt
University of Toronto Alumnus
Spring 2011 (March 28-May 24) Global Health Leadership Intern

The large wooden double-doors towered over me. Ornate and intricately framed with brass L-shaped handles, they represented the final barrier into the inner workings of Unite For Sight, the place where I would spend my next 9 weeks working. I had traveled here from the west coast of Canada – land of the Rockies, of endless winters, of caribous, hockey and igloos – in search of something, but what? Perhaps it was knowledge, friendship or maybe an escape. No matter. My source had never misguided me; she alone told me to begin here in New Haven, CT, over 5000 miles away from my hometown. It was at Unite For Sight where I would find my answer, she told me.

And so I came to be in front of those large wooden double-doors. With nervous apprehension, I approached. Sweat dripping down my forehead, I gripped one of the brass levers tightly, freeing the doors from their endless embrace. I steeled my nerves, and pushed. The door rattled. It was locked. I took a step back, my mind racing with a thousand thoughts – perhaps I had gone to the wrong place, or I was here too early or maybe… and then the door swung open towards me. A head popped out between the doors. “Come on in,” the face beckoned. “And next time - pull the door.”

That was my introduction to the headquarters of Unite For Sight, a place that I would soon learn was not unlike a buffet. Like a buffet, there is an array of choices – from writing and researching, to video editing and graphic design. Like a buffet, there can be a theme – one week, Effective Program Development; the next, Community Health Workers. And like a buffet, there is plenty to be had.

But unlike a buffet, where the food can be of varying quality, at Unite For Sight, the experience is as delectable as the amount of effort you put in. Try as I might have, that leftover stale bread roll on the buffet counter was never going to be a German dampfnudel, regardless of how much I wanted it to be. With love and labor at Unite For Sight though, you will learn and see how leftover facts can be turned into jaw-dropping statistics, how dry stories from foreign travelers can form the foundation of inspiring articles, and how ephemeral conversations can spur forth changes that impact the lives of people around the world.

The things you will experience at Unite For Sight will change you, and you will inevitably feast on the new knowledge and tasks, as I did over the past 9 weeks. I snacked on module writing, I indulged at the 2011 Unite For Sight Global Health & Innovation Conference, and I nibbled on video editing. In the end, like any good buffet, you will keep coming back to one thing – for me, that was the “Table of Editing Modules”; but for you, dear sir or madam, the choice is yours.