Summer Internships in Hawaii

UC Davis Study Abroad, Summer Internship Abroad USA, Community Health & Native Healing in Hawaii Program, Header Image, Overview Page

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Holistic Healing Internships in Hawaii

Program Overview

This Global Health Summer Abroad Internship program provides students the opportunity to gain firsthand experience in social determinants of health, planetary health, NGOs and schools focused on at-risk populations on Hawaii Island (The “Big Island”), as well as experience through visiting a variety of health and healthcare settings.

Participants in this program will grow to understand health and healthcare practices in Hawaii through a holistic lens, examining health disparities and the social determinants of health in this unique island context. Participants will learn about health challenges including homelessness, poverty, drug use, and lack of access to healthy food, while also examining innovative and successful community-based approaches to address these issues. Participants will have the opportunity to study Native Hawaiian cultural values, beliefs, history, and the practice of traditional kanaka maoli lapa‘au (Hawaiian medicine). Cultural visits and activities are woven throughout this program dubbed “Kumulau” or “many roots of the tree” by local leaders, who emphasize that culture is not separate from health, and we cannot help to improve health until we understand a person’s culture and history.

Intrinsic in Hawaiian medicine are the linkages between human health and the health of the environment, a major theme throughout the four weeks. The program will also incorporate a focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension, and will examine local efforts to address these health challenges through outreach and education initiatives at the community level, NGO's, and within the school system. Through immersion in the local community, cultural activities, hikes, and tours, site visits to clinics, NGO’s, and schools in at-risk communities, students will gain insight into the health challenges faced by the community on the Big Island, as well as groundbreaking approaches to holistic public and community health.

Program provided by Child Family Health International (CFHI), an NGO recognized by the United Nations. 

Program Contacts

Program Highlights

  • Learn about traditional Hawaiian healing practices.
  • Observe local practitioners who integrate allopathic and indigenous medicine.
  • Observe and learn local Hawaiian culture.
  • Increase your cultural humility in holistic healing practices.
  • Enjoy the beauty of the island and the warmth of the locals.

What Students Are Saying

  • “The most rewarding part of the internship was witnessing the impact we had with our work. We were able to vision screen over 1,000 students all over the island. We feed over 100 people every Thursday at a community church. Looking at the impact we made really inspired me to continue volunteering and helping around communities.”  
  • “The most rewarding aspect of my study abroad experience is learning how to make connections through a wholesome, human-centered approach, and being mindful of how my actions affect those around me on a profound level.”

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