HL&D Service Learning Trip to Ecuador

Name: Nicholas Motz


Type of Project: Service Learning Trip


  1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project. Write two or three sentences describing the main activities your STEP Signature Project entailed.

There were three main segments to my service-learning project, the first of which being allowed the opportunity for roughly two weeks the shadow doctors in various fields including surgery, ER, Gynecology, Sports Medicine, and Radiology. Secondly for a entire week completed a service project of converting many shipping containers into homes. Lastly interspersed throughout the trip we were able to tour and immerse ourselves in the culture and land of Ecuador.


  1. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project? Write one or two paragraphs to describe the change or transformation that took place.

I honestly see in myself that I have changed from this trip. What has really transformed with me is a very internal thing within me; my way of viewing the world has changed. Not an entire frame shift, just more of a widening or even focusing of that frame. Having spent that time in Ecuador I have learned to really appreciate and enjoy the smaller things in life because people there really do appreciate that. They have often so much less than we do here and they just the same with that and they enjoy it too. To be specific, watching surgeries the OR is extremely simple in comparison to what we would have in the US, no fancy machines, just the simple OR with a surgeon, scrub nurse, a circulating nurse and the respirator with life support. Which is literally all you need and they get the same thing done that we do here. It just really has taught me to appreciate what I have and am blessed with. To really employ the opportunities I have here and rejoice in the small thing.

Additionally also learned so much on being open to teaching, that it isn’t always a competition. That together we will succeed through helping each other to succeed.


  1. 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? Write three or four paragraphs describing the key aspects of your experiences completing your STEP Signature Project that led to this change/transformation.

As I mentioned earlier the experience in the hospital in the OR was quite eye opening. Majorly just watching a surgery being done was quite a rewarding experience. It helped me to affirm that I do in fact want to continue on the track that I am to become a doctor. Just getting to be so hands on to was impeccable. It wasn’t just the OR though during our ER days we got the opportunity to do rounds and go around from patient to patient and take their vitals and review their charts just allowing us to get our feet wet in the realm of being a doctor. Additionally a way that I got to get my feet wet was on one of my last surgery days a surgeon allowed me to help him hammer a persons knee replacement into place, which I was extremely grateful for that opportunity. This leads into another realization and transformation I had.

Just the entire mentality down there in Ecuador is completely different from ours here in the US. Here it is all about competition; on who is the best of their class, who is smarter, who is better. The mentality here is all about that you have to be the best and in order to do that you need to beat everyone else and not help them. In Ecuador it is something totally different. In Ecuador the mentality is to be more than grateful to help your fellow peers that together we will succeed. That if you help those under you, you make the next class even better and so on so on. This is something I had the opportunity to discuss with one of my tutors, Ramiro. We talked for a while on this difference between each other’s mentalities. He commented upon how there the idea is that of course I will help you, aid you over time to get to my level of expertise, but then also by the time you get to my level I will have already moved up myself in my knowledge. So there is still this idea of competition but with a different view entirely.

Finally another big transformational experience for me was the touring of the country. We got to see everything from downtown upscale housing, to rural shacks on the sides of mountains, to the jungle, to the harbor beaches. Just getting to see the way that some people lived down there was so powerful. The most of which was meeting one of the prior communities that HLD had helped. Upon our arrival we were immediately greeted with hugs from the local and cheering. People we had never ever met in our lives were so happy to see us and meet us. We played with the children for a long while. Then the town’s people were gracious enough to have prepared us a feast of food of corn and chicken. They gave us a huge amount of food of the little they had. This just taught me that those who have the least are willing to give the most and that honestly was a moving experience for me when we did have to leave them. Just the willingness to give and also to be so happy of people with the little they had. It really fueled me for the volunteer part of the trip to really churn out those homes for these people.


  1. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?  Write one or two paragraphs discussing why this change or development matters and/or relates to your academic, personal, and/or professional goals and future plans.

This change or transformation is valuable to me because it has already affected my life. It is something that I feel I will keep with me my entire life. For one the opportunity of getting to shadow is valuable because it made it evident to me that I am on the right path, that I am in fact doing what I want to do. Getting to see the end career was extremely rewarding and gives me drive to get there. The other things I learned also are extremely valuable because I have begun to employ them. I already feel happier just taking the time to think my day over and really appreciate the things I am learning and also what I am blessed with. Also the opportunity to help and teach others is I have found to be an extremely gratifying experience but when coupled with the stepping back to appreciate what has happened is great.

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