Sharlene

SharleneHi there! I was born in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan, where I grew up with my older sister, Arlene, and my parents who moved to the US from Punjab, India after an arranged marriage there. I love having a mix of both Indian and 'American ' culture, and being able to relate to aspects of both cultures when I travel. The last time I was in India was for my cousin's wedding. My family lives in a small village, so the wedding was very traditional. For the first ceremony, all the streets in the village were closed, and my cousin was on a beautiful white horse decorated in red and orange carnations. The entire party on his side followed behind him as his horse led us to the temple. When we reached the temple, I got to feed the horse first since I was the youngest cousin, and than we all went over to the bride's parents' house for a pre-wedding reception where the bride's friends performed classical Indian dances. When we got back from our trip, I begged my mom to sign me up for Indian dance classes, they were so much fun! A good friend of mine in high school was an exchange student from Lisbon, and she invited me to visit her in Portugal the summer after we graduated. I took my sister along and we ended up backpacking around Western Europe for two months. I fell in love with Sevilla, Spain and wanted to learn Spanish better so that I could immerse myself fully in the culture. I began college at the University of Michigan (go blue!) when we returned from our backpacking trip, and decided to major in Spanish and Economics. Traveling in the Dominican Republic, I became fluent in Spanish mostly through interviewing women in villages of the Jarabacoa Mountains about health and nutrition. This is where my interest in Public Health began and I began to open my eyes to all the health disparities there are in the world. I worked with Animadoras ' local health workers ' in the villages and we went door to door giving vaccinations to the kids and offering health advice to their mothers. It was an empowering experience, and the following summer I went to Ecuador to volunteer at a government health clinic. While I wasn't volunteering or learning about health issues, I was dancing! I learned the basics of merengue and salsa in the Dominican Republic, and got to practice my moves with my host family in Ecuador! I love dancing and it has opened up a world of possibilities for interacting with people when I travel. I spent six months in Sevilla, Spain, where I met an awesome group of volunteers who walked around the city on weekday nights to offer café con leche and conversation and company to the homeless people there. I joined up with them and got to go on retreats with their volunteer group all around Spain, which was a great cheap way to travel and learn about Spanish culture. When I graduated from Michigan, I moved to Santa Cruz, CA and worked at a health clinic in Salinas, the 'Lettuce Capital of the World. ' Besides learning how to make great salads, I joined a Salsa Rueda (Cuban salsa) dance team, took a ceramics class, and tried out surfing! I also volunteered as a Spanish-English translator at a free clinic, and became really interested in health care policy and immigration. Now, I'm studying to get my Masters in international health policy at Harvard, and enjoying the dance scene in Boston. I spent the month of January in Santiago de Chile studying health reform, hanging out with Chilean medical students, dancing at Salsatecas, and eating great seafood! The combination was too perfect! Right now I'm working on our school's International Night Cultural Show which will feature food, music and dancing from around the world! I love trying out new foods, people watching, and most of all, traveling and making friends from all different backgrounds!! I have had such wonderful experiences traveling and volunteering abroad, and I am very excited about facilitating other peoples' experiences as a volunteer coordinator with Globe Aware. 

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