The Home Stretch

19 04 2011

So since my last post I have spent a weekend at a beautiful beach, worked overtime at the clinic, spent a night in the hospital (as the patient), finished with my classes and final exams, and celebrated at least four birthdays. While the events have been exciting, I want to use this post to share some of my observations.

I was reading Juliana’s blog the other day and I realized how incredibly different our experiences have been yet when we talk, we always come to similar conclusions. The pictures alone are enough to realize the extreme difference. She is exploring Moroccan cities, historic European landmarks and taking a mosaics class while I am beach hopping, finding all of the waterfalls possible and taking blood pressure and sugar levels at the clinic. So how is it that we both seem to discover similar concepts when our time has been spend doing completely separate things? To answer this question I will present some of the conclusions we have made and when I get home we can talk about the observations that led to these conclusions :).

1. The American education system is based on analysis and exploration in order to discover more information while other education systems (JJ and I can only speak for Italy and the Dominican Republic) are based on memorizing and regurgitating information.

2. “Study abroad” is a culture within the culture you are exploring. This can be a positive and negative thing.

3. You haven’t really studied abroad if you have spent less than 3 months in the country, and to be frank, you can only learn the superficial and can’t really learn anything substantial about the culture, the country, the people, the language in under 3 months.

4. Being a tourist, or traveling to other countries, after studying abroad will feel like cheating.

5. Americans stick out, in some superficial ways in terms of appearance but also in some deeper culturally rooted aspects.

6. You can’t plan for everything, and while it’s a wonderful skill to have to be able to plan it’s sometimes an even better skill to be able to adapt to change and adjust quickly and effectively.

7. You can learn some of the most profound things in the simplest settings.

8. The resources and opportunities that exist in the United States are valuable beyond measure and I would argue that they are sometimes under-appreciated by Americans.

9. Culture is hard to define. Culture, as a word, is hard to define.

10. If you invest in your experiences even experiences that may seem like failures are huge successes.

My work in the clinic and community has been going so well, I’m incredibly happy and I will be sad to leave. My most recent project was helping one of the doctors with her thesis project. I was able to do some serious data collection and statistical analysis. And she caught on fast that I was good with graphics and the computer so I ended up helping her compose a 100 and some slide presentation. (Oh, I also made a video of photos, complete with accompanying music). My other work in the clinic has included, well, everything. I have been in charge of distributing medication, sitting in on consults so that I can follow up with the patients in the community, making house visits to check blood pressure of hypertensive patients and blood sugar levels of diabetic patients, weighing and collecting patient medical history, giving charlas (informal talks) about various health issues in the community and even reorganizing the medical chart filing system. I have learned a lot about the way in which the health system works from my research and how it really works from my time working. I have seen and I (think) I understand (but never really will) what poverty means. And I have really become in the idea of health system organization in terms of funding structures and allocation of resources. I have observed how the university education system impacts the medical services and what “community” really implies.

It would be unfair to publish a post without at least one picture with water and bathing suits, so here is a group picture from our trip to Las Terrenas in Samana. This was taken in front of a beautiful waterfall called Salto de Limon.

Salto de Limon

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2 responses

20 04 2011
Mom

You are an amazingly insightful, sincere and heartfelt person that I am not only proud to have as my daughter but extremely fortunate to have in my life!
God bless you.

25 04 2011
MIMI

you are teaching us so much via your website Iam constantly in awe of your accomplishments and observations! You make all of us very proud! One day we will make a trip together back to the DR with the first stop being the “TEETH OF THE DOG” Mom and Dad said it sounds good to them” We are all looking forward to May lst and I promise to have the salad ready.

Love you tons!xoxo MIMI

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