Buckeye in Lima: STEP Study Abroad with MEDLIFE


Name: Emily Armstrong


Type of Project: Study Abroad


Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

For my STEP project, I traveled to Lima, Peru with the organization MEDLIFE.  During this week-long trip, I provided medical care to under-served communities within the city.


What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

During this trip to Peru, I learned much more about my world around me than I had expected.  Before this trip, I had little experience travelling abroad and had never traveled to a third-world country before.  Seeing poverty in America is one thing, but being able to experience poverty abroad is very different.  Frequently we would visit areas of town where thousands upon thousands of people lived in houses made of plywood and tin rooves and supported their families on less than a dollar a day. This experience allowed me to see a larger view of the world and experience first-hand some of the issues these people deal with on a day-to-day basis.


What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

This trip provided me the opportunity to learn more about a culture which I had previously known little about, while being able to donate my time to a worthy cause.  In addition to expanding my knowledge of health care practices, I learned about some of the struggles experienced by the people in Lima, including poverty, poor access to health care and lack of education.

The first two days of the trip consisted of a tour of the historical city of Lima and a tour of one of the villages we were to be working in.  We were able to experience both the history and the culture of the people of Peru and see what a day in the life of someone living in one of these communities is like

Three days of the trip consisted of travelling to different areas of Lima to volunteer at the mobile clinics.  Stations at each included medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, education, and toothbrushing, where children were given toothbrushes and taught how to brush their teeth.

One day of the trip involved helping to build a staircase for a local community.  Many people in Peru live on mountainsides, and these dangerous walking conditions become a risk to their help.  By creating stairways, MEDLIFE helps to eliminate many preventable and unnecessary injuries in addition to making every day life much easier.

Each of these experiences taught me a lot about the issues experienced by the people living in poverty in Lima.  Most importantly, I learned that each of these challenges cannot be changed overnight.  Major public health issues like dirty drinking water, lack of accessible health care services, and lack of education on the importance of hygiene are each important struggles which must be tackled in the hopes of fixing health in these poor areas of Lima, and underdeveloped countries in general.


Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  

Travelling to Peru has definitely made me more aware of global health issues.  Because of this, I hope to become more active in my global community in helping to alleviate these issues.  I hope to do trips like this in the future.  I also hope to spend time abroad for programs such as Doctors Without Borders in the future.