My Experience with Open Aid Alliance

My GLI theme is public and global health. I worked with the Open Aid Alliance to achieve this theme. The Open Aid Alliance is based out of Missoula Montana and they are committed to serving the people of Missoula who suffer from substance abuse disorders and/or have STIs. COVID drastically affected my experience, instead of working in an office in Missoula we had to resort to an online environment. Unfortunately because of this I have no photos of my experience. Because of that change I worked out of my hometown of Billings Montana. With working from home I wasn’t put into a new environment in the traditional way. Instead I was introduced to different people and different ways of life by way of webinars and articles. With the various perspectives and lives I was introduced to it changed how I look at the issue of substance abuse and how it is treated as of now. Also it made me look at my own bias and background. This experience taught me not to take things for face value and that you never know what someone is going through. A lot of the webinars and articles I was introduced to challenged the American culture towards people with substance abuse disorders. To be completely honest this experience has changed my perspective not only on my theme and challenge it changed how I look at modern health care. I saw so many people not being treated correctly or not being treated at all. It also introduced me to subgroups of people I wasn’t aware of and their challenges and whether or not they are getting the help they need. With this experience being online I had to be my own boss. I pushed myself everyday to put out the best products I can. I also had to insert myself on various projects. Since I was the first person to do an online internship with the Open Aid Alliance, my drive and motivation was a big component to what made this internship so successful. Some of the questions that came out of my experience were about our current healthcare model. How do we better serve people who need it? How have I not heard of these issues earlier? I realize that this is a complicated issue but we need to make some drastic changes so people can get the help they need. One of my final questions was: How is the United States so far behind?

This experience has changed my life and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. I would like to thank the GLI program not only for the scholarship that made this possible, but for helping me find an experience that best fit my interests. I would also like to thank Amanda Reese at Open Aid Alliance, she could’ve just cancelled my internship but instead she worked with me to find a way to make it work. And finally I would like to thank Kevin Hood at the University of Montana. He helped me figure out the details that made this internship work. I know that a lot of this internship was self motivated but with out the team of people that helped me navigate this experience it wouldn’t have been possible

If you would like to see some of the projects I did during this internship attached is a blog I created for the experience. Along with some of the projects posted on my blog I would say that the most memorable project was creating an educational tool for high school students to learn about harm reduction.

Thank you all for the expirence

-Drake Leonard

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