Saturday, April 18, 2015

Nuestro Tiempo en Nicaragua

Our time in Nicaragua was one of the most enriching and exciting of our experiences on our semester long OTS program. Not only were we able to have hands-on experience in the clinic setting, we were also able to live and experience for ourselves what life in the country was like with our host families. I had some of the most fun and most difficult moments of my semester while there in Nicaragua and it deepened my passion for studying medicine.

When we first entered the country, I was shocked at the drastic differences there are between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The dryness of the land, evident poverty in the cities, and intense heat all signified we were no longer in the country we had become so accustomed to for the past three months. However, there was still beauty beneath the dust and dirt in the form of beautifully colored homes and an expressive, outgoing people. We were able to experience the amiableness of the people first hand in our homestays. My host mom was a kind, generous woman who loved us like her own daughters. In her home I discovered such a beautiful simplicity of living that transcended unnecessary comforts like hot water and air conditioning. As silly as it sounds, the lack of these things was at first a distraction for me, but once that wore away, I grew to appreciate so much more the love and warmness of the home.

I have traveled to both Mexico and Bolivia for medical missions trips and have helped run free medical clinics many times before. However, in none of these experiences was I able to do as much as I was with Vida Volunteers in Nicaragua. Not only were we able to interview patients ourselves and learn what things to look for, but we were able to make our own proposed diagnosis, and the doctors respected and critiqued our estimations. It made me feel so useful and valued as a student. Although I am not yet a professional, the knowledge I have been taught can still be useful in helping another in need. One of the biggest things I learned through the interviews were how closely linked nutrition is to health. I also had a first hand “taste” of this in my homestay and was able to see the amount of sugars and fats that fill many Nicaraguan diets. Seeing this first hand link between poverty, nutrition and overall health gave me so many new ideas for my future in Medicine.

Overall, my time in Nicaragua not only taught me more about myself and health in a poorer country, but it has driven my passion for pursuing medicine and nutrition with a focus on helping those most in need.

Stephanie Hynes

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