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Patrick M.

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Child Family Health International
May 8, 2012

When I decided to travel abroad to expand my cultural competency and medical experience, I was very apprehensive about traveling to Latin America. With my limited, OK zero, Spanish education, I was worried I would not be able to fully participate in the culture and clinical rotations. However, after my first two weeks in the Intensive Immersion Program offered in Quito, I feel exponentially more prepared to take advantage of my upcoming clinical experiences. After taking 32 hours of Spanish classes in my first week, I was able to participate more and more in dinner discussions each day. I was also able to haggle pretty effectively at the indigenous market on our trip to Otavala during my first weekend. The classes (my teacher Juan Carlos is AMAZING by the way) focused not only on learning the language, but also on medically specific Spanish and cultural differences to expect in clinic.
In my second week, I volunteered in a local high school. The staff and students and Humbold were very helpful and welcoming, although I did receive some well deserved jeers when the butchering of my Spanish go atrocious. Being forced to communicate only in Spanish without the crutch of an English speaker in many of the classes greatly expedited the recall of my previous Spanish lessons, especially when I tried to teach a physics class. Additionally, the opportunity to teach English classes gave me the chance to review the basic Spanish I was trying to learn. One of my favorite times was hanging out with a 13 year old practicing our pronunciations and making fun of each other’s struggles, him with the “th” sound and me with rolling my r’s. The kid was also a natural at catching an American football.
Although I do feel way more prepared for clinic that is about to start, I do think the Intensive Immersion Program is best suited for the first month of a two-month program. This way you get to spend six weeks in clinics versus a very limited two weeks in a one-month program. So far, my trip has gone better then I expected. After no previous Spanish exposure I can actually communicate, although probably equivalent to a 5 year old, and enjoy this beautiful country. Everyone has been amazing, from my host mom to my Spanish teachers, to the students I had the joy of hanging out and practicing with. I am super excited to start clinical rotations and am so happy with the program choice I made. I think it was tailor made for me.

More feedback

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

MY ROLE:
Volunteer