This STEP Signature Project is done with FIMRC and aims to provide health care for the community of Rivas, Nicaragua. My main project is to go to schools and teach the students and parents regarding basic health literacy such as how to do CPR, and treating burns and cuts. Along with this, other projects I have done include, shadowing and helping the pediatrician and OB/GYN, spending time with children with Down symptom, and inputting diagnoses into the FIMRC database, among other things as well.
Prior to coming to Nicaragua, I have always thought that I don’t need that many things in life, yet leaving behind the amenities of the US made me realize just how wrong I was. Living with a host family allowed me to experience first-hand the daily life struggles of the community members. The constant blasting of AC, the lack of mosquitoes and reptiles, the daily hot showers were what I had always taken for granted back in the US. Yet, even before I came here, I knew I was going to struggle with those things, but actually experiencing the struggle was something else. Still, there were things I did not expect.
I did not expect to develop such intimate relationships with the people here. In this community, everyone is friendly, everyone is family. I did not expect to enjoy running crazily while playing tag with my host brothers and sisters. Knowing so little Spanish upon my arrival, I did not expect to enjoy conversing with everyone and hearing their resonating laughter at my failed attempts. I did not expect, most of all, that I will miss everyone here. I knew that I would build relationships here, yet I had thought that a month’s time was too short for building any strong foundations. I was wrong.
In Nicaragua, time runs much slower. Instead of rushing from one task to another, most of the time here is spent “placticar-ing” or just sitting around and talking with each other. This point not only runs through my time with my family, but during my internship as well. Everything is “chill”, and nothing ever rushed. Also, since internet is so limited here, it forces people to talk with each other rather than constantly looking at our phones.
I return back to my host family at around 4:30. At this time, the entire family lounges around outside on either hammocks or chairs. Without any internet and distractions, I would often talk with my family (despite not knowing much Spanish) regarding their day and plans they are looking forward to. In my family, we would always make dinner together. Because the food here is rather simplistic such as rice and beans, I have been able to help as we shared in the precious tradition of the making and eating of food. All this down time to talk and connect with my family helped me develop stronger relationships with the people in my community.
As for my internship, we see each other every day from Monday-Friday between the times of 8am and 4pm. During this time, we all have the same goal: to just be hands and help as many people as we can. Every other weekend, we would go on trips to other places. All this time spent together has really allowed all of us to bond. Along with that, communication with the other interns is so much easier and through helping each other we are able to understand and say what we want with our combined knowledge of Spanish. All these experiences and time spent with the other interns to work toward the same goal brought us together.
This trip has helped me in all fields of my life: academic, personal, and professional. It has helped me solidify my passion for attending medical school through shadowing the pediatrician and the OB/GYN. I have realized that I really enjoy helping people, I really enjoy science, and I really enjoy developing relationships. What better way than medicine? My personal life of developing connections with everyone here, interns and host family, are life long and something that I will bring back to my life in the US. Both my academic and personal goals help me to reach my professional goal. I now have more connections with people in the medical field and am able to confirm future plans as to what I want to do with my life.