Returning to Rwanda: An Interview with Ruth Geiger

Ruth Geiger, Rwanda 2008

Ruth Geiger, a college senior at Emory University, traveled with us in 2008 on our summer global awareness program to Rwanda for high school students. Her experience exploring issues of health care and development initiatives were a launch pad for a focus on Public Health and she went on to study Sociology and Global Health at Emory. Ruth returned to Rwanda in 2012 to study post-conflict restoration and peace-building and completed a month long independent project in which she examined preventative efforts regarding malnutrition in children under five years old. Click here to check out her blog. We caught up with Ruth recently to talk about her experience in Rwanda, both with our summer program for high school students, and most recently as a university student and researcher.

Can you describe your experience as high school student with our summer program in Rwanda? 

My experience as a high school student on the summer program to Rwanda opened my eyes to the public health situation in Rwanda in addition to some global public health concerns. It was a great mix of lectures and hands-on experience in various settings.

Is there one moment or memory in particular that has stuck with you from that summer program in Rwanda?

The memory from my Putney summer trip  in Africa that has stuck with me most was sitting on the floor of a clinic, under the guidance of a medical student, and administering oral re-hydration salts to a three month old baby girl.

Please describe the group environment on this high school summer program, what were your leaders like? What were the other high school students like?

The other students were engaged, curious individuals, some of whom I’m sure will go on to be great leaders. The program leaders, Mike and Melanie, were great at giving us perspective and helping us to understand the complex issues we were grappling with.

Ruth, left, with fellow Global Awareness in Action Rwanda students.

Please connect the dots from your experience in Rwanda with Putney’s summer program to what you are up to today. What have you been doing and what are your plans for the future?

Putney’s high school summer program in Rwanda undoubtedly helped to shape the path I am on now. I am now a senior at Emory University majoring in sociology and minoring in global health. Last semester I studied post conflict restoration and peace-building in Rwanda and spent a month researching the role community health workers have in treatment and prevention of malnutrition in children under five, an interest which was sparked when I was in Rwanda with Putney on the summer program in 2008. After I graduate, I hope to go on to get a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on global health or childhood malnutrition.

Do you have any advice for future participants on high school student travel programs to Rwanda, or other programs to Africa?

My advice for future students on these summer programs is to open your mind to all of the things you hear while you’re abroad and figure out how you can carry those experiences into your life back in the US. There are so many things to learn outside of the classroom, from other cultures, people and perspectives.

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