When Abroad, Avoid the Dogs

After the sudden onset of flu symptoms and a frantic Google search later, Hojung Lee ’14 found herself at an Anglo-American clinic fearing that she had contracted rabies after an ill-advised attempt to play with street dogs in Lima, Peru resulted in a bite on her calf.

“I didn’t seek medical attention because all the local people, all the people at my workplace said, ‘oh it’s just a bite, it won’t do anything,’” she said. But after the bite Lee became sick with a cold, a headache, and diarrhea.

But the symptoms didn’t go away. By the third day after the dog bite, Lee, who was in Peru studying Spanish and volunteering, became paranoid.

“I thought, wait, is this because of rabies? Is this a symptom?” she said. Her Google searches did little to assuage her fears—Lee found that flu-like symptoms can be indicative of rabies.

She freaked out in a Facebook status, and friends encouraged her to seek medical help. “They were trying to calm me down, but they were freaking out, too, because they thought I had rabies.”

Lee went to a clinic where she received the first two of a four-part rabies vaccination, and then to an emergency room. Eventually, International S.O.S. told her to fly back to the United States to get a vaccination that was unavailable in Peru, but would offer immediate protection from rabies. Although she still had three weeks left in her program, Lee left Peru, flew home and is now completely healthy.

Lee was one of over 1,000 Harvard students who went students went abroad, according to preliminary figures from the Office of Career Services. Harvard sponsored travel to countries in six continents and internships around the world.

Lee, a Crimson video editor, spent the summer abroad in the Peruvian capital while taking classes at Universidad del Pacífico and volunteering at a Christian organization through a program organized by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies’ Spanish and Community Service Program.

Others stayed stateside this summer, though figures on how many worked in the United States have not yet been compiled.

Rachel L. Jiang ’13 was one of 60 participants in the Director’s Internship Program at the Institute of Politics and received $4,000 to work at Resources for the Future, an environmental think tank.

“The internship was quite substantial, which I really appreciated,” Jiang said.

Her favorite part of the summer, though, was getting to experience Washington, D.C, a place that she described as a city of interns.

Although not a Director’s Intern, Paul A. Leroux ’14 was a recipient of an IOP summer stipend, which provided funding for two internships. He bookended his summer by working for Vermont Health Care for All, an advocacy group for single-payer health care. He researched and attended events and helped plan a forum.

Leroux also worked with the IOP and the Phillips Brooks House Assocation to teach summer civics.

“I got to work with four or five different camps. That was a wonderful experience,” he said. “It was really great to see these kids when they felt a little bit more power.”

For Lee, leaving so quickly meant that her kids at Corazones en Acción only found out about her departure after she’d left. Still, she doesn’t regret the experience “at all.”

Lee just hopes that others will learn from her experience­­—“­In Latin America, don’t play around with dogs.”

—Staff writer Katie R. Zavadski can be reached at katie.zavadski@college.harvard.edu.

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