Name: Karen Li
School: UMass Amherst
Major(s): Operations Information Management
Class Year: 2017
When and how did you get involved with YSI?
My sophomore year, a friend introduced me to the organization after going on the pilot trip. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on the second trip to Haiti and be part of the creation of YSI as a non-profit organization.
Which expeditions have you gone on?
In the past two years, I have participated in three expeditions -- two in the winter, and one in the spring.
What was your position? Can you describe your main responsibilities?
As a co-manager of the organization and president of the YSI chapter at UMass Amherst, I assisted the national team with fundraising and recruiting and managed the UMass chapter, public health expeditions, and project management leadership. In addition, I collaborated with the co-managers and executive director to prepare for expedition trips to Haiti twice a year. In the UMass chapter, I focused on preparing advocates for their expeditions by providing travel prep, teaching the history and culture of Haiti, and initiating opportunities to volunteer at local shelters in Amherst along with the E-board.
As the clinic coordinator, my responsibilities included assisting in managing the clinic area in Pont Morel, servicing fifty patients in one day. I developed a working layout of the clinic, complete with three patient rooms, a waiting area, and a pharmacy to ensure the smooth flow of services. Additionally, I supervised the patient schedule, coordinated staff, and provided a safe and comfortable environment for patients and personnel involved.
My second role as the research coordinator during the expeditions in Haiti involved providing leadership for data collection and management in the community of Pont Morel. On previous trips, we have conducted surveys on mosquito-borne illnesses, access to water and electricity, access to primary health and medical care, and nutrition to help better identify and understand the needs of the community. I helped to develop research questions and analyzed the data pertinent to the information collected.
What is your favorite memory from your trip(s) to Haiti?
My favorite memory is from my most recent trip to Haiti. A lot of us were walking down to Febe’s shop to purchase some snacks and drinks. My friend Annika’s shoe was broken when we went to Febe's. At Febe’s, her husband noticed that Annika’s shoe was broken and, without hesitation, asked to see if he could repair it. This act of kindness highlights the strength of the community. As we were walking back, a family invited us in and did our hair. It showed both that they were willing to get to know us and that we were willing to be immersed in the community as well.