Senior Gaurav Dhiman, a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, traveled to India during the 2011 spring semester to conduct research on tuberculosis.
Dhiman’s travels abroad were made possible because of the scholarship, which is awarded to low-income students through the University of Maryland, the U.S. State Department and the Institute of International Education. It gives students the economic means to travel abroad to an area where they can receive academic credit.
“Gaurav had high academic achievements and wanted to study in a non-traditional country,” said Kefryn Reese, director of the UM Prestigious Awards and Fellowships Office. “These are things the Gilman scholarship recognizes.”
Dhiman, whose family lives in northern India, chose Manali because he knew the language and was interested in the public health course that was offered, he said.
As a student on the pre-med track, he wanted to study something related to the field.
In May 2011, Dhiman was out of the country for the first time in his life while he was given the opportunity of taking classes and researching the health system in Manali, India.
“It wasn’t even a class per se,” Dhiman said. “We had about an hour of class time each day, but we were mostly in the field. We did a lot of research finding hot spots of tuberculosis by mapping the clusters of tuberculosis of current and past patients.”
Dhiman also had a firsthand account of what the public health system is like in Third World cities, such as Manali.
“There is no such thing as privacy there, so you follow doctors on their rounds as they talk to patients who are still recovering,” Dhiman said. “It is cool because you get to see things that you wouldn’t be able to see in the U.S. unless you were an actual doctor.”
This is because doctors do not have the time to fill out privacy forms in the U.S., Dhiman said.
“The hospital served about 50 to 60 thousand people and there are six doctors there,” Dhiman said. “The doctors would see about 70 patients a day.”
When he was done with his classes each day, Dhiman said he would explore the city and interact with the people who lived there.
Living in Manali allowed him to experience the local residents’ culture, he said. He encourages all students to study abroad.
“It’s a lot of fun to live there and experience the culture of the city you are living in,” Dhiman said. “Everyone should study abroad, even if it is just two weeks or a semester.”