This summer I am interning at Curamericas assisting with the design of a program questionnaire and baseline evaluation, the results of which will help guide the direction of a Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health program to be implemented in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. So far, I have focused on developing an evidence-based list of indicators for the participant questionnaire.

As was most of my classmates, I was devastated to learn that I would be working from my couch all summer; the same couch on which I stayed up way too late tweaking my 713 poster last December, the same couch on which I pretended to re-watch Biostatistics lectures in preparation for an exam when most of my attention was actually going toward an old episode of Brooklyn 99 that I “had on in the background”. As sad I was that I would continue to sit on this same couch for the summer (sure, I have a desk, but find me a desk chair that is as comfy as a couch!), there is something to be said for the Work From Home (WFH) colleagues that you would not otherwise have the privilege to hang out with…All. Day. Long.

My Work From Home colleague and me.

My Work From Home colleague and me.

I have a special relationship with my WFH colleague, but we are very different. While I sit all day in front of my laptop researching the state of maternal health in Haiti, he sleeps all day. While I brainstorm the best indicators to measure maternal mortality, he bites and licks his nails. Sometimes, I find it nearly impossible to stay focused when my colleague and I have such disparate styles of working:

I read about how the 2010 earthquake in Haiti halted massive nationwide immunization campaigns in their tracks. My WFH colleague yawns and stretches and yawns and stretches.

I determine whether healthcare facility delivery or the number of antenatal care visits during pregnancy would be a better indicator of neonatal death. My WFH colleague mouth-breathes fish breath directly at my face.

I examine the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months as an effort to prevent child malnutrition. My WFH colleague sits beneath me as I eat my work snacks to catch the inevitable crumbs, despite having refused a full bowl of food in the other room!

I encounter Imposter Syndrome and wonder if I have enough knowledge and experience to be in this position. My WFH colleague chews on a stick.

I should focus on the positives too. It is nice to hold myself accountable for taking walks throughout the day – otherwise, my WFH colleague would go stir-crazy. My WFH colleague LOVES to snuggle and I can wholly appreciate this personality trait. While I sometimes get jealous of my WFH colleague’s relaxed (read: lazy) lifestyle, I remain grateful to have this opportunity to impact global maternal and child health while abiding my necessary and sound Coronavirus restrictions. I think I can safely say that as annoying as he can sometimes be, I will be sad to leave my WFH colleague at home once summer is over and we return to a new normal.