January 22, 2012
For the first time in my life I spent Christmas and New Year away from my family but to be completely sincere I felt right at home. This past December I was fortunate enough to participate in CFHI's amazing Community Based Care and Tropical Medicine Program in beautiful Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico. From the second I arrived my until the second I left, my host family, friends, professors, and doctors all treated me with kindness and respect. I learned a tremendous amount of information about tropical medicine such as malaria, dengue, and chaga but I also learned a lot about chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. As I shadowed the nurturing doctors around the Puerto Escondido area I would undoubtedly learn about a variety of common and uncommon patient needs. As a pre-med, I salivate over getting this kind of exposure and knowledge and being submerged in this environments created a unique and powerful experience that the internet has yet to match. You can read as many books as you want or talk to people for hours about their experiences but until you live it and make that human connection you'll never fully understand. Connecting with the humble people of Puerto and earning respect from patients and peer created an extremely rewarding and fulfilling experience. CFHI really outdid themselves as they have thought of everything. First, as soon as I was accepted into the program they constantly emailed me guiding me through all the requirements that I had yet to fulfill (like my own personal checklist). Not only was it simple to submit the application (as I never ran into any glitches) but the scholarship I received was really what sealed the deal for me. I'm very grateful and appreciative to have received it, without it I wouldn't have gone. They arranged for someone to pick me up from the airport to take me to my local coordinators home then to my host's house. From the time I was picked up I was shown around or shown how to get around which if you know how to take a taxi you'll be fine (and don't worry a taxi ride costs about 50 cents). Whoever I was with whether I was at home, school, clinic, or restaurant all I had to do was ask a question and I was always kindly answered or shown how things worked down their. In short, I was taken care of just like my worrisome mother wanted. A regular work day (Monday through Friday) started with breakfast with my family and a short walk to catch a taxi that was going towards my clinic site. After a full day of enriching shadowing it was back to Puerto for Spanish class (conversational and gramatical). Topics were almost always medically related to help me communicate with patients as best as possible. I grew up speaking Spanish but these classes still benefited me greatly. My professors were friendly and fun to hang with. Fun fact: my language school also doubled as a surfing academy so not only did I improve my Spanish I also picked up surfing! After Spanish class I would attend another lecture on Mexican healthcare systems and morbidity and mortality concerns. After that I would usually walk home to do my homework or study up on certain illnesses or conditions. Soon after that was dinner with the family then it was off to bed. Weekends were free for me to explore. I could go to the beach and play volleyball, soccer, swim, or simply relax with an umbrella drink. There are plenty of restaurants and bars to go dance or sing or, if your into art, their are plenty arts and crafts vendors or ancient ruins you can visit. This trip couldn't have been more well-rounded. CFHI really did their homework on this one and it's an experience that anyone can only benefit from. I'm proud to call myself a CFHI alum and I'm sure if you decide to participate in this amazing nonprofit organization you will grow as a person and student and you will undoubtedly enjoy your adventure.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
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When was your last experience with this nonprofit?