Week 7-8 internship reflections

The past couple of weeks have been pretty busy here in Guatemala. Probably the most notable thing I did, although unrelated to my internship, was climb a volcano! It was an extremely challenging and fun day, and totally worth the week of soreness I experienced afterwards. If you’re interested in reading more about the hike and seeing pictures, I wrote a full blog post about it on a different site that can be found here: https://itsrightunderyournose.com/2016/08/23/volcan-acatenango-or-up-and-down-again/.

As far as work goes, I’ve been moving along on the research project and paper we figured out for me. The final topic we decided upon is migration and the knowledge/use of contraception in adolescent girls in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize – three countries in which Population Council is in some stage of developing a community group/after-school ”safe space” program for adolescent girls. Internal migration from rural to urban areas is huge in these countries, as people move to cities in search of better educational or employment opportunities and/or freedom from hardships such as violence and poverty in their areas of origin, among other reasons for migrating. While migrating can ultimately improve the lives of adolescent girls, it is obviously not without risk. Migration can not only put girls in physical danger, especially during transit and if they end up working in risky work environments such as factories, but can also harm their health in other ways. Most notably, migrating to a new area disrupts girls’ social networks, potentially leaving them without reliable sources of health information or services. Because of this isolation and disruption of social network, our hypothesis is that girls who migrate will have lower rates of usage of modern contraceptive methods and less knowledge about these methods. So far the paper is coming along nicely and I’m thankful my supervisors are flexible and allowed me to research a topic that is interesting to me, despite being a little outside of their expertise. For more information on this topic, I encourage you to read the Council’s report on adolescent girls’ migration called Girls on the Move. It’s a little long, but worth the read!

I have two weeks left here in Guatemala and they are going to be full! I will be presenting my work on this paper and a few other side projects I’ve worked on to the rest of the office soon, and at the end of my last week here I’ll be accompanying my supervisor on a field visit to Sololá, a rural Mayan community where the Council is conducting its randomized control trial to measure the impact of the Abriendo Oportunidades program. I’m excited to finally meet some of the human beings behind all the data I’ve been working with and see just a little bit more of this beautiful country before I go!

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