My STEP signature project was a MEDLIFE service learning trip to Riobamba, Ecuador during this past spring break. During the week excursion we toured the country, went zip lining, and assisted in providing medical care to those who otherwise had no access to it.
I have always viewed myself as a humble giving person. If I were ever asked to describe myself and the things I like to do, I would always talk about my passion for helping others. Going to Riobamba made me realize I do not do nearly enough and I am not as self-less as I would like to think. While in this third world country, we were helping families who had very little to no money. They were still willing to give us a part of everything they did have. I have a new appreciation for those in the medical profession as well. The doctors I was fortunate enough to work with were completely devoted to assuring these patients received the care they desperately needed. It was amazing to see how they interacted with the locals and how thankful they were to us for being there.
Aside from the medical clinics we participated in, we also worked on an additional project. For this project we were tasked with assisting in the final phases of the construction of a house for a local family. All of the volunteers on the trip were separated into groups and spent one entire day working on the house for this family. At the end of the week family was presented with the house. When I worked on the housing project, we were sanding walls, painting the walls, and laying the concrete for the front porch area. The work was hard and grueling and I wanted to sit down and take breaks throughout the day.
When I had the urge to rest I looked around at the native Ecuadorian people assisting us with this house, they had so much heart and they were determined to make the house look good for the family moving into it. I was too embarrassed to rest even though I was deathly tired. The local people were so proud of the work they were doing and it truly showed in the final project. Just being around everyone was such an inspiration for me.
Before we showed the family their new house we took a brief tour of the house they had been living in. The lower level was all one dirt floor room. There was no furniture present except for blanket pallets on the floor. There was no kitchen and the stairwell leading to the second floor was a ladder missing about half of the stairs. When the family saw their newly constructed house they immediately started balling. That moment had the greatest impact on me. It felt amazing to be able to have such a huge impact in someone’s life.
This signature project was life changing for me. Whenever I find myself complaining about coursework and exams, I think back to my trip to Ecuador and convince myself that I have absolutely nothing to complain about. I now realize that my life could be ten times harder than is.