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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Bwiam, Gambia
  • Program Terms: Summer Internships
  • Restrictions: UPENN applicants only
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

Global Internship Program (GIP): Power Up Gambia 

Power Up Gambia Logo
The Internship: Students studying engineering, nursing, dentistry, or other related fields are encouraged to apply to this unique opportunity working at a hospital in The Gambia

Number of Spots Available: 3 total

Duration: 10-12 weeks

Start Date: Mid-May to Early June 2018

The Organization: Power Up Gambia is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating sustainable solar energy systems for healthcare facilities in The Gambia.  It was founded in 2009 by Kathryn Cunningham Hall, a Penn student who spent a summer at a Gambian hospital and witnessed firsthand the limitations in patient care caused by electricity shortages.  The organization has grown from a one-time effort to a non-profit consisting of staff and board members, in addition to a large network of student and professional volunteers.  Based in Philadelphia, PA and working exclusively in The Gambia, their mission is to provide reliable electricity and water to healthcare facilities in The Gambia through solar energy.  Their solar projects are designed to be long-term solutions for the energy needs of Gambian healthcare facilities.  Their driving vision is for every hospital in The Gambia to have 24-hour electricity and running water.

The Location: The Gambia is one of Africa's smallest countries.  Located in West Africa on the Atlantic Coast and running along the Gambia River, this former British colony is known as "The Smiling Coast of Africa" for its friendly and gentle culture.  Student interns will be based at the Bwiam General Hospital in the rural town of Bwiam.  Interns should note that a very active social life will not be available to them while working in the rural areas of The Gambia.  Individuals who are comfortable leading a fairly quiet life for a few months are more suitable to this position.  This is not to say the time spent in Bwiam will be dull, as traveling in The Gambia and making friends at the hospital and in the villages will be an amazing experience.

Some health and safety risks to be aware of include:
  • Allergies: Students with severe allergies, particularly to peanuts or seafood, should be warned that Gambian food is often made with peanuts and seafood and that the hospital is in a major peanut-growing area

Internship Details

There are two types of internships available with Power Up Gambia:

1. Hospital Staff Intern
  • Location: The interns will work primarily at the Bwiam General Hospital, but will also have the opportunity to assist at local village health clinics with the hospital's mobile health and vaccination teams.  Work with the mobile health teams may include weighing babies and children, helping mothers with health records and documents and recording data.  Engineering students may be able to assist with the placement of solar suitcases in remote clinics.
  • Number of Spots Available: 1-2
  • Work Hours: The work schedule is flexible and dependent on the interns' projects, but a 40-hour work week is expected.
  • The intern will:
    • Have the opportunity to observe firsthand how health care is delivered in West Africa with few resources and limited technology
    • Help the hospital staff identify, categorize, and document potential projects
    • Assist in medical record keeping and data processing
    • Assist in finding research funding opportunities
    • Review the solar power project at the hospital by looking at its impact, improving its capacity, and making recommendations for use of solar power in other Gambian health facilities
2. Dental or Nursing Assistant
  • Location: The interns will work at the Bwiam General Hospital.
  • Number of Spots Available: 1-2
  • Work Hours: The work schedule is flexible and dependent on the interns' projects, but a 40-hour work week is expected.
  • The interns will:
    • Have the opportunity to work as dental or nursing assistants in direct collaboration with hospital staff


All GIP applicants must be current full-time, degree-seeking University of Pennsylvania students who are returning to their degree program full-time in the Fall semester.  All GIP applicants must also be in good academic and disciplinary standing.
The internships at Power Up Gambia also require applicants to meet the following eligibility criteria:
  • Interest in Africa
  • Ability to work under the direction of Gambian supervisors
  • Strong communication skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability in new environments
  • A willingness to respect different lifestyles, beliefs, and values
  • Sensitivity and patience
  • Expertise in Microsoft Word and Excel
  • Experience in data analysis and reporting
  • Comfortable working around medical staff and patients
    Self-motivated and able to proceed with tasks under minimal supervision
  • For the Hospital Staff Internship: Studying pre-med, biology, engineering, global health, or public administration
  • For the Dental or Nursing Assistant Internship: Currently enrolled in dental or nursing school

Please Note: Students who have participated in this program in the past OR who accepted a placement through this program in the past but then withdrew are not eligible to apply again.


Bwiam, The GambiaInterns will be housed for free in a house for volunteering students in the resident and medical student housing block on the hospital's campus.  Penn students may at times be sharing the house with American and European student volunteers from other universities.  The house is in a fenced and secure area, with 24-hour security staff.  Interns can either cook meals for themselves or can arrange to eat with a local family or medical staff.


Money Matters

All students accepted to the GIP will be awarded a Global Internship Program Award.  GIP award amounts vary by student, and are based on location of internship, length of internship, the student's need, and the student's merit. The internship placement application process includes the GIP award application essay.

The estimated budget for this internship is as follows:
Expense Estimated Cost  Notes
Program Fee $0 None
Round trip airfare $2,300 Estimated cost PHL - BJL
Accommodation $0 Included for free
Meals & Personal Expenses $1,000 Could vary based on lifestyle
Visa $100 Basic cost for US citizen - processing costs could be higher
Local Transport $0 Housing located at work site
Other $0  
Total Estimated Cost $3,400  

How to Apply

Ready to Apply?  Follow These Steps:
1. Click Apply Now above to login with your PennKey and password and begin the application
2. Complete all requirements listed in the online application, including:
  • CV/Resume upload
  • Cover Letter or Personal Statement upload
  • Unofficial transcript upload
  • Award essay
  • Required advising appointment with the Global Internships Manager (schedule yours by clicking here)
  • Other program-specific requirements, as needed
3. Once all requirements have been received and checked off, submit your application by the deadline
Don't Forget:
  • You may apply to a maximum of two (2) GIP programs.  You may open your first program application by following the above instructions.  To open a second application, you must first meet with the Global Internships Manager for an advising appointment.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to schedule your advising appointment, as appointment slots may fill!  Advising appointments will not be available from December 23rd-January 1st, so please plan ahead.

Application Deadline: January 10th, 2018 at 11:59pm EST


Schedule an Advising Appointment: Don't forget that meeting with the Global Internships Manager is a required component of applying to the GIP.  Schedule your appointment by clicking here, and don't wait too long, as appointment slots may fill!

Past Participants: Want to connect with a student who participated in the Global Internship Program?  Click here to view a list of past participants and get in touch.

Career Services: The Career Services office on campus can help you in several ways.  You may find the following links helpful: Visas: Depending on your citizenship and destination country, you may need a visa or work permit to participate in this internship.  It is your responsibility as a GIP participant to determine your visa requirements and obtain a visa, if needed. Past participants have found the following resources helpful in determining visa requirements:

This program is currently not accepting applications.