Name: Jenna Garber
Place of Birth: Ephrata, Pennsylvania
How did you first hear about IHC? I first heard about IHC through the Bonner Scholars program at the University of Richmond. I got the opportunity to volunteer with IHC as a sophomore and loved it! When I decided to stay in Richmond for the summer, interning at IHC was at the top of my list.
What was your first impression of IHC? Working in the IHC office during the first week of my internship, I was impressed by the well-organized nature of day-to-day business, but more importantly the genuine dedication of all the IHC staff. It was obvious to me that they love playing a part in IHC’s very important work.
What has been your most memorable experience since interning with IHC? Spending time with the IHC families is always a really rewarding part of my internship. It is especially rewarding, though, to see the progression of an IHC family from start to finish, as I did with Ronald and his mother Anselina: their arrival, the successful surgery, a healthy recovery, and then their return home. Knowing that the child departs from Richmond with a new outlook on life, and knowing that I contributed to that in some small way, is the greatest feeling.
What has surprised you most about interning with IHC? Every day I am shocked to discover another facet of IHC’s incredibly significant work. Although bringing children to Richmond for surgeries is a large part of what IHC does, it is by no means the entire picture. They send surgical teams all year round to their six partner countries and heal hundreds of children that way, too. They put together a beautiful auction to raise money, they organize surgical teaching clinics, and they are constantly looking for new ways to expand their work and reach more children in need.
What do you find most challenging as an intern? Interacting with the IHC families, although it is very gratifying, can sometimes be challenging. I have been learning how to find common ground with people who are very different from me and have very distinct life experiences. It’s not easy, but it’s a great skill to develop, and I’m constantly surprised at how much we have in common when we do a little digging.
What do you wish other people knew about IHC? I wish other people knew just how easy it is and how many volunteer opportunities there are at IHC! Our visiting families are away from their homes, their friends and families, and can feel uncomfortable in a new environment, especially going through a difficult surgery. The IHC volunteers not only transport the families to and from medical appointments and visit the children in the hospital, but they also introduce our families to the city of Richmond and make them feel as at-home as possible. Take them to a park, a festival, the zoo, a museum, a movie, cook them dinner, have a craft day, just get to know them! It’s so flexible, and the families appreciate it so much.
What made you choose to explore an internship at IHC opposed to other groups? With IHC I am able to utilize my Spanish in a very practical way, which is really gratifying. I also chose IHC because I get the opportunity to interact with a variety of people, in and out of the office: young children, adults, professionals, people from different cultures, you name it! Every day brings a different experience; it is by no means a sedentary desk-job!