An Eye-Opening Experience: Video Transcript

Sammi Marshall [senior major in Biology, Class of 2018]: We were in Nicaragua for a week living with host families, and every day we had a different brigade that we held amongst the students, and they were all in different locations. So most were held in churches or school rooms. And then another one we did was sort of a walking brigade; so we went to a neighborhood and walked around to people's houses.

I heard about it through my professor, Nohelia Rojas-Miesse. She is actually the professor who runs the trip every year. I think I kind of just decided on a whim to go for it, and I was really glad I decided to do that.

And we had three doctors from Nicaragua who helped us, and we also had a couple other program workers who helped us with prescription medicines and stuff like that. And then us students, we either worked by checking patients in and taking their history or getting medicines that the doctors prescribed. Then we would also help the doctors when they were in with the patients. So we kind of each rotated around doing various roles and working on our Spanish.

When families would come in … how parents and grandparents would bring their children in, they were themselves … they had ailments that needed addressing, but they were more focused on their children getting help from the doctors. And that to me was really eye-opening, because I think that if I were in their shoes, I would be really concerned about my own problems, but they didn't want us to address their problems before their children got help.

A lot of these people were living in a very great level of poverty. It was really eye-opening to see what that was like, because before you go there you kind of imagine what it's like, but your imagination is nothing like the reality. And when you get there, it's kind of shocking at first, but then once you start focusing on how you can help the people, it's really great.

I mean my Spanish isn't perfect, so there were a lot of times when I was struggling to find a word, but most of the times the patients really understood what I was saying. They were also very understanding about me not being a native speaker.

I remember my first night they dropped us off at our host family's house, and the bus left, and I was just standing there with my host mom, and she asked me a question, and I completely blanked on how to respond. And she's like, "Do you not speak Spanish?" and I was like "Oh no, I do!" It was really embarrassing, but the next day I brushed up, and she realized I actually can semi-communicate with her.

Prior to my trip, I had always considered using Spanish in my future career, but I'd only thought about using it in terms of if I had patients who came in that only spoke Spanish. But after the trip, I realized that I would really like to pursue healthcare on a global base, on a global level in the future. So if I become a doctor one day to spend my time working with countries that need my help, and especially Spanish-speaking countries, because that’s a skill I am able to utilize.

[January 2018]