Placement: World Education Laos, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Eryn Eby grew up in Anchorage, Alaska and the surrounding mountains. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington in May 2013, with a degree in International Relations and an interdisciplinary emphasis in Global Development Studies. Eryn’s interest in public health stems from her personal experience growing up with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Because of her own experiences with the healthcare system, she was inspired to become involved in the medical world, starting by working with an ophthalmologist on iritis research in high school. They presented a poster at the 2010 American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus National Annual meeting and were published in the Binocular Vision and Strabology Quarterly in fall 2012. In summer 2012 Eryn founded and ran Camp ARCTIC (Arthritis Can’t Tame my Independence and Courage), the first summer camp and community for children with arthritis in her home state of Alaska. She worked with physicians and nurses at the Alaska Native Medical Center to find facilities and staff, secure grant funding from prestigious sources, and manage volunteers to create the best possible experience for the children and families that came from remote and urban communities around the state. After high school Eryn planned a gap year of volunteering internationally before college. She taught AIDS education and basic first aid at a public health clinic in Zambia and taught second grade for five months in Ecuador. She returned the next summer to help run the teaching program in Ecuador. After returning to the United States, Eryn interned with the Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services program in Alaska where she negotiated differences in beliefs about gender roles, viable work opportunities, and financial assistance in order to devise culturally acceptable and financially feasible solutions to help refugees adapt to their new lives. Eryn also works with Etta Projects, a small non-profit that does development work in Bolivia and prioritizes partnership with local community members. All these experiences have taught her the importance of sustainability in organizations and community-led solutions. They have inspired her to work on the development, education, and implementation side of public health projects in her future career. Whenever possible Eryn loves to be in the outdoors backpacking, kayaking, and skiing. She balances her academic college experience with involvement in the outdoor program at her school and her role as an orientation leader for incoming new students.
Eryn is placed with World Education Laos, supporting the Reducing Childhood Diarrhea Program in particular. World Education has operated in Laos since 1992, and supports rural and community development in the fields of health, education, income generation and microfinance. Its goal is to empower vulnerable populations in Laos to become as productive as possible through multi-sectoral programming in partnership with local governments and Lao non-profit agencies.