International Connections

McKena Ludemann

Major: Dietetics/Nutritional Science

Year: Graduate
Hometown, State: Nebraska

Type of experience: Internship Abroad
Experience: International Dietetic Internship Community Rotation
Experience website:
Destination: Asesewa, Ghana

Overall experience..
After completing internship rotations at various hospitals, schools and clinics, seven of us went to Ghana for our Community rotation. There, we took classes to learn about the background and culture of Ghana and the community that we were in, Asesewa. We learned how to take anthropometric measurements based on WHO standards, and refined a questionnaire. After learning about the background of the communities, we went into the community and conducted an assessment. We separated men and women from two communities in Asesewa and asked them questions from the questionnaires. Later, we conducted anthropometric measurements on children ages 0-60 months. We analyzed the data and worked in a collaborative effort to write a research paper. We conducted an intervention and provided education about the importance of dietary diversity and boiling water before drinking.

I learned...
Through a dietitian who used the nationwide location option for this internship. Then, upon researching the internship, I saw that it offered an international option.

An impact to my life...
Going to Ghana was an opportunity to travel after the internship, where four of us went to an orphanage and served a community that was malnourished. We are since working with both the orphanage and the community to provide resources and education. We are implementing a garden in the orphanage to grow nutritious foods. This will be a long-term project that will provide actual benefits to these two communities, and has provided me with experience others may not have.

My most valuable learning experience...
The most valuable learning experience was learning about the different foods the people eat, and the nutrients in them. With this knowledge, we can see where we are, nutritionally speaking, and where we can go from here. It was also valuable to learn the importance of the knowledge of the local people. Without their help and input, no foreign source can implement a healthy change.

I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I have from this internship abroad was conducting an assessment and intervention. I will use the skills I learned to practically and efficiently conduct nutrition assessments and interventions in the future.

A surprising discovery...
I didn't expect to learn more efficient ways to do things. This isn't nutrition-based, but I learned a lot about water conservation. For example, we had to boil water and dilute it with cold water since we had no hot, running water, so I learned how little water it takes to get clean. At home, I can mimic this by taking "military style" showers. I learned that there is always a way to do something- you will never lack if you just ask for help.

Advice for others...
I would advise them to be open to new experiences. That there is no way to warn them about different bathroom situations, but just to have sani-wipes and tissues with you at all times. I would advise them not to talk too much, and to listen to what the local community has to say. Talking too much often puts on display how much you don't know, even if you think you do. Don't waste too much time comparing the new community with your home community because you'll probably accidentally insult someone or distance yourself from the experience. Don't make inferences on the entire community based off of one or a few people. Always try to say "thank you" and "hello" in the local language, and try to make people laugh (often by trying to greet them in the local language. Trust me. Your accent is hilarious!).

Submit your experience!

International Connections home