Six Upstate students hosted a panel discussion in Weiskotten Hall recently to talk about their experiences volunteering at rural health clinics in Nicaragua this past summer.
Upstate’s Center for Civic Engagement coordinated the trip in partnership with the Enlace Project, a not-for-profit organization in Nicaragua dedicated to providing opportunities for human and economic development.
Students interested in going next summer should contact Siobhan Arey in the Civic Engagement office (email@example.com) as soon as possible. The trip roster needs to be finalized by February.
Students go for two or three weeks, stay with host families and learn the culture. They are able to assist with procedures under the supervision of a local physician (and with permission of the patient), and are given the option to not participate in any procedures.
It’s not all work, though. The students have some time off for activities like soccer, hiking, shopping and “volcano boarding.”
Ten Upstate students went to Nicaragua (eight from the College of Medicine and two Respiratory Therapy students from the College of Health Professions). The six students on the panel – Katie Schnapp, Sarah Lopez, Rosemarie Mastropolo, Lizz Magowan, Alex Tabone and Jennifer Sasson — said they’re happy to answer questions about their experiences. They can be reached through Facebook.
Here are excerpts from the panel discussion:
“The doctors asked us questions, and they’re just really patient with you. We felt welcome, and the doctors liked teaching us.”
“We learned a lot about the health care system, and how they deal with the lack of resources. In just two weeks there, my Spanish improved. One doctor was on vacation and came back every day to help us. We helped the community’s businesses and helped people with their English. The cost for two weeks was very reasonable.”
“The people in the town knew who we were, and the Enlace people were great. The doctors were great explaining the health care system, and let us help with some of the exams. Patients were very enthusiastic about us being there. With one pregnant woman, we couldn’t find the fetal heartbeat, and she said, ‘You’re doing great, try again!’ ”
“It was pretty much my first international experience, and it was cool to be immersed in another culture. The doctors were good. They really care.”
“We helped with a lot of ob/gyn patients. It’s not just medical treatment at Enlace; they help sustain the community.”
“I went for two weeks, and I should have gone for three. It was a great eye opener; now I can see the full aspect of medicine. Our group became very close, and we hung out after clinic.”
“It was a good personal experience and a good medical experience for everyone.”