Now that I’ve been back in Baltimore and am getting back into the swing of school, it is weird to think that I was in Guatemala just last week. The glow from our trip is slowly fading as my focus shifts to exams and clinical, but the desire to travel and volunteer abroad is stronger than ever. Guatemala taught me a lot of things and I believe that everyone who goes there takes away a little something different. For me, it was comforting to see how quickly you can become acclimated to a new environment. The world can seem so big and sometimes we think everyone is so different from each other, but, to steal the words of a wise friend of mine, we are, in the end, all one race living in this big planet at the same time.
Regardless of race, kids still love to play. Even with a language barrier, I was still able to bond and play with the various children I met simply by picking up a tennis ball. All of us also want to live healthy lives. I was surprised and humbled with how open and inquisitive the people of Guatemala were to health education and treatment. It’s hard to help people when they don’t want your assistance, but during our time in Guatemala, I truly felt like a made a small difference and contribution to these people’s lives.
Many of us, myself included, have been given or earned many great privileges in our lives, such as attending Hopkins School of Nursing. With these privileges, I believe we have a responsibility to share our wealth and knowledge with others when we can. That is what I was able to do when I went to Guatemala. From buying a stove and helping install it into a family’s home to educating children on dental health and older women on reproductive health, I was able to take the knowledge and wealth my life has granted to me and share it with others.
Everyone will experience something different when they travel abroad. It is always a fun, sometimes stressful, adventure that ends with most people gaining new perspectives or, at the very least, coming home with great stories and fond memories. If anyone truly wants to know what a service experience is like abroad, I would suggest they try to find an opportunity to go somewhere themselves. It may not be a life changing experience, but it will be a memorable one.
I will be forever grateful to Hopkins for giving me this opportunity. I was able to learn and improve my skills while reigniting my passion for working abroad. The memories and friends I made there, while some were potentially fleeting, will be things I can look back fondly on for the rest of my life.