The Friday That Changed My Life

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The Monday that Changed My Life

It was an unforgettable day during my internship when I realized that Public Health was not just my interest, but my calling. Although I had a vague idea of a career in health promotion, meeting Lal, my first refugee client at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian aid organization, blossomed my idea into a firm desire to become a public health advocate. I saw an opportunity to improve health equity by addressing the barriers that cause health disparities in vulnerable communities. It was Monday, and the Health Team at IRC had walk-in hours for individuals who needed assistance. When I sat down with Lal in my cubicle in the darkest corner of the office, little did I know that I was about to begin one of the first emotionally intense and empowering conversations of my career. Lal was a Bhutanese refugee who had spent almost 20 years in the refugee camps of Nepal. A week ago, the IRC had resettled him in the U.S. My role as a Public Health Intern was to support and assist refugees in navigating the intricacies of healthcare and other social services as they walked their road to self-sufficiency and assimilation into a new culture. I introduced myself to Lal with my biggest smile and greeting in Nepali: "Namaste."
As nervous as I was, I noticed that Lal was more anxious. I asked, “How are you this morning?” “Exhausted” Lal frantically replied. He had accidentally fallen asleep and missed his bus stop. As an immigrant

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