Gertrude Kaldjob traveled from her home town of Ichenhausen (Bavaria/Germany) to San Diego, California in March, 2013 to volunteer at the German American Chamber of Commerce California. She came to the U.S. with her two year old daughter, Alina. Gertrude was born in Cameroon and moved to Germany at the age of 9, where she now studies at the University of Applied Science Ludwigshafen am Rhein in the field of Healthcare Economics and for this reason she completed her mandatory internship. Her tasks as an intern included writing reports, attending conferences, preparing presentations on the current changes and issues surrounding the healthcare industry in the U.S, and working on healthcare research projects for the San Diego based company, Perleberg Healthcare Research Consultants.
In the following interview Gertrude talks about her impressions and experiences while in the United States.
GACCCA: What was your main reason for completing an volunteer assignment in the U.S.?
Gertrude: My intention was to expand my horizon and I choose the US because of its healthcare system.
GACCCA: What was the biggest challenge for you as a single mother?
Gertrude: My biggest challenge was to organize everything while still in Germany. Finding childcare and an affordable place to live that’s very nerve-racking and exhausting, but I managed it.
GACCCA: Was everything like you imagined?
Gertrude: For me, the journey was definitely worth it. Although, there was the one or other stressful day, but by and large it was a good experience for my daughter and me.
GACCCA: What was you most beautiful experience during your time in the U.S.?
Gertrude: My best experience in the US was when my daughter saw the sea for the first time. She was so happy, she couldn’t stop laughing. She talked about it all day and was thrilled the whole time. This pleased me very much.
GACCCA: Your worst experience?
Gertrude: My worst experience was, when my daughter had to be hospitalized because of severe epitasis, but because of the great help from the nursing staff, everything went well again.
GACCCA: Tell me a little about your work with GACC California.
Gertrude: The work was definitely a good mix of all the thinks I want to do in the future. I worked with a lot of different people, participated in meetings and attended conferences. I had the opportunity to plan projects and complete research and I can say it was a very good mix for me to experience the different elements of the healthcare industry in the US.
GACCCA: How did your manage your leisure time without your child?
Gertrude: I was blessed to find a good babysitter and to have some family living not too far away in Orange County.
GACCCA: Would you recommend other single mothers to have an experience like that?
Gertrude: Definitely. Of course it’s a huge step and maybe a risk for some people and it also means that you have to organize a lot to live in a foreign country, even if it is only for a short while. In my opinion, I would say take the risk, because it will be the best experiences of your life.
GACCCA: After such an adventure, what skills are you going to use for your future and do you already have plans?
Gertrude: I’m going to use all the skills I obtained during my stay in the U.S. This experience showed me even more, how important it is to be connected with people globally, to be open for new cultures and languages and how good it is to be an open minded, hard working individual. That’s why I would say, I take this experiences with me for my future career. I actually have just one plan now…This is to graduating. After that, I will start to actively pursue my career.