International Connections

Kalley Hakes

Major: Dietetics/Nutritional Science

Year: Graduate
Hometown, State: Minnesota

Type of experience: Dietetic Internship
Experience: Dietetics Internship in Rural Ghana
Experience website:
Destination: Ghana

Overall experience..
This four-week program was in Asesewa, Ghana. Five American and four Ghanaian interns were apart of the program. We stayed at the Nutrition Research Center built by the University of Ghana. We had professors come and lecture about their culture and dietetic related topics. We visited hospitals and a local school. Our main project was to go into two different villages and do a full nutrition assessment on children under five and also adults above eighteen years old. We then went back to the villages to share our findings and provide nutrition education.

I learned...
As an undergraduate at Iowa State, I was informed about this opportunity in one of my classes.

An impact to my life...
This experience was eye-opening into nutrition care in a developing country. Personally, I now have a better understanding of the food-related issues in Ghana. I always try to seek out educational opportunities that will expand my cultural competence, which is one of the reasons I applied to this program. I would like to work with global nutrition in my career, so this experience was a perfect glimpse into that area of dietetics.

My most valuable learning experience...
One thing I learned during this trip is that we humans are all more alike than we are different. We may speak different languages, look different, live far apart, but we all have the same needs and desires as everyone else.

I will never forget...
It is difficult to pick one memory from my trip to Ghana, but when I reflect on my time there I think of the people. The other interns I was with every day for a month, our team leader who was always there with us interns, the professors who spent time with us, the people in the villages, and many more. The people I met were the most memorable part of my trip.

A surprising discovery...
Traveling abroad, there are always things that are unexpected because they are different from your day to day life. I did not expect to see goats and chickens roaming free everywhere. I did not expect for there to never be toilet paper in public restrooms. I did not expect to meet such welcoming and truly kind people everywhere we went. But the unexpected things are what is beautiful about an experience like this one. You get to experience a different lifestyle. Back at home, I will appreciate and be more accepting of differences among people I meet along the way in life.

Advice for others...
I would advise anyone who is considering studying abroad to go for it!! You will have an amazing time and memories to last a lifetime.

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