December 23

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The Blog that Refused to Write Itself

I know that it’s been way too long since my last blog post, but life has a way of getting busy and I can happily say that I wasn’t blogging for all the right reasons!  I arrived back in the US a few weeks ago, and just completed my assignment last week in Durham.  I am back home now and reflecting on the last 6 months…..oh how quickly life can change!

Singapore was an amazing, life-changing experience and it will forever have a place in my heart.  While 6 months is a long time to visit somewhere, it is a very short time to live there.  I experienced so much along my journey, but there is still more to be seen on that side of the world.  I am looking forward to going back in the near future, and just wish that it wasn’t 24 hours of flight time away (maybe Santa will let me borrow his sleigh after he is finished with it this year!).

My assignment was working with a non-profit based at Duke University called Innovations in Healthcare (www.innovationsinhealthcare.org).  They help support healthcare-related innovators throughout the world.  While their reach is worldwide, they had limited exposure in Southeast Asia, so I was tasked with: 1) learning about the healthcare systems in SE Asia and identifying gaps and opportunities there, and 2) identifying entrepreneurs who are using innovative approaches to fill those gaps.  The region is very diverse, geographically large, and the economies of the 10 countries range from very poor to very wealthy.  Because of this, each country, and each region within the countries, have their own challenges and needs.  I met hundreds of amazing people and was so impressed with their passion, dedication, and brilliance.  Many of these people are the ones that are truly making the world a better place, and they also helped me become a better person just by having met them.

And now for a summary of events over the last 6 months, and to be as Singaporean as possible, this will be very streamlined and efficient:

Singapore is a beautiful, modern city:

Food is a science, an art, and a way of life there.  There are cuisines from all over the world, restaurants, food shops, and hawker centers (aka food courts) everywhere:

The food in Cambodia can be a bit crazier, and sometimes YOU are the food!

Cameos of the sun from a few hot spots:

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Sunset in Delhi, India

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Sunset in Perth, Australia (yes, things Down Under really are upside down!)

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Sunset in Singapore

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Sunrise in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Some furry friends:

And other assorted pics:

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Thank you to GSK for giving me this opportunity, and special thanks to my manager, Maura, my VP, Tracy, and the PULSE team.

Thank you to the entire Innovations in Healthcare team for taking me in for 6 months and teaching me more about the global healthcare environment and the challenges of non-profit organizations.  Special thanks to Krishna, Jennifer, Simone, and Jenny for your assistance along the way.

Thank you to everyone I met along this journey!  The experience would not have been the same without you, and your contributions to this world are appreciated.  Keep up the great work!

Thank you to my family and friends in the US who kept in contact with me throughout, supported me when times were tough, and kept me up to date with the goings on over here.  Thank you to my new friends in Singapore and throughout SE Asia, for introducing me to your world.  Special thanks to my girlfriend Pudding for sharing your life with me, and for keeping me sane when times were tough!

A major takeaway that I learned from this assignment is that no one person can be a healthcare entrepreneur on their own.  It takes a team, an environment, and a network to be successful.  This is true in most aspects of life.  I am hopeful that we will all come together as global citizens to trust, rely on, help, and love one another, no matter our differences.  To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr; hate cannot defeat hate; only love can conquer hate.

Happy holidays everyone!