FISH is committed to encouraging members to reflect on their experiences beyond the border. In response to a prompt, Associates describe memorable moments, challenging encounters, and eye-opening interactions during service trips. Read them below:
Week 1, Spring 2017
In light of your experience serving abroad, what does global health mean to you?
To me global health is not defined solely as physical health. Physical health is definitely an important component of global health, but mental and emotional health are just as important. Global health is people not only not getting ill, but knowing of healthy habits to avoid sickness. It is people having resources to clean water and clean facilities. With regard to my trip this last week, I realized the importance of not only response systems, but also proactive treatment systems. This entails teaching English to students in Maclovio, for instance, in an effort to expand their education.
Week 7, Winter 2017
Discuss an interesting patient interaction.
While at the wound clinic this past trip, I had the opportunity to interact with patients and shadow a doctor from UCSD. A brother and sister were among two of the patients seen that day. After his blood pressure was taken, I initiated a conversation with the brother in Spanish, but he responded with fluent English. I learned that he lived in the United States for most of his life, but was deported while he was still in school. Though not an avid drug user like his sister, he explained how being poor is stigmatized, and how difficult accessing health care is compared to America. He told me how he had been tricked into buying beef when it was actually horse meat. Sometimes, he would get stomach flu but continued to eat the contaminated food because he had no options. The doctor ultimately gave him some Ibuprofen and topical cream for his ailment, which was most he was able to do for the other patients as well. The patient's stories and treatment somberly reminded me that unless society is fixed from bottom to top, the most we can do is alleviate his superficial pain.
Week 8, Fall 2016
Describe something new you learned on this trip.
This was my very first trip to Maclovio Rojas and I honestly loved it. I can see why some people may get annoyed about waking up early and waiting in the border line, but that was honestly one of my favorite parts. It really helped me get to know other members of the FISH team, and also made me realize how dedicated FISH is to serving. The fact that we continue to make the effort to make trips to Maclovio over the years makes me feel honored to be part of FISH. When we first arrived I was shocked about how enthusiastic the kids were to go up to their classrooms and how they felt so comfortable talking to the member of the FISH team. I was especially honored to be greeted by Dr. Gonzalez with a hug, even if that was my very first time meeting her. That really showed me how strong of a connection FISH has established with Dr. Gonzalez, and I immediately felt so welcome by her. I was especially grateful to be able to take the time to walk around the community marketplace and engage with various members of the community. I felt this was truly a rewarding experience and I look forward to the rest of my future trips to Maclovio Rojas.
Week 6, Fall 2016
Describe a memorable interaction on this trip that made you sad or happy.
This trip was my first trip to Maclovio and I can honestly say it was an extremely humbling experience and has certainly opened my eyes. Overall, the experience was quite positive. There weren't a lot of things that made me sad on this trip but a few moments broke my heart. The lack of proper facilities and state of the village was heartbreaking. I did not know what to expect when I went on this trip but the situation in Maclovio was definitely worse than expected. However, the children's excitement and their dedication towards learning made me extremely happy. Their persistence and commitment in trying to acquire a new language was inspiring. In addition, I loved the fact that we were able to play with the kids and develop a more personal relationship with them. Finally, I was really happy to see that various groups reach out to these villages and try to offer them healthcare. The work that Jesse is doing is amazing and is really making a change. I am truly happy that there are so many people out there trying to help those in need and trying to ameliorate their lives.
Week 5, Fall 2016
What was different about this trip compared to others you have attended?
This past Saturday happened to be my 9th trip to Maclovio Rojas since I joined FISH my freshman year. Yet, I can honestly say each trip I go on continues to leave me even more excited for the future of our organization and the community that we work with. As our FISHies lead the English lesson for the day, I was reminded of one of the quotes that stood out to me during Training Day the week before. "Schools don't teach kids, people do." Right from the start, it was clear that each FISH associate came prepared to lead their assigned ESL activities with the kids. Even those who were not fluent in Spanish made their own cheat sheets with Spanish phrases and vocabulary they needed to lead the class. It was clear that our FISH associates truly cared and understood that the effectiveness of what we do in Maclovio depends upon the quality and effort of our volunteers.
Lastly, although I did not go myself to the clinic at La Capilla Divino Niño, it made me so happy to hear what other FISHies had to say about their visit. Aside from their amazement at the medical, surgical, dental, psychological services and facilities that the clinic offered, we were all inspired by Jesse Perez, the head architect of the Care Mission organization. His words and his philosophy about having the "heart to serve" left us excited to be partnering with them in the near future.
Week 3, Fall 2016
Describe a memorable interaction on this trip that made you sad or happy.
During the trip I took during Week 3 of Fall Quarter I had a very memorable experience from one of the kids who attends our English Lessons. I was responsible with helping begin the English classes that morning. We were preparing everything by taking out all of the materials and setting up the lesson plans like we usually do. I was greeting all of the kids as they entered and handed them their notebook so they could begin coloring. After we had begun with the class I would go around asking any of the kids if they needed help. One girl asked me a question as I was walking by. She wanted to know how to spell the word "Wednesday". A little bit later I asked her how many times she had come to our English lessons and she told me that she had been coming for a long time. She told me she could not remember exactly how many due to how long she had been coming to class. I knew that many of the students had been coming to the English classes constantly so I did not think much of this until she told me why she kept on coming back. She told me she looked forward to going to class because her main goal was to be able to come to the United States one day with her family and be able to speak English. During the trips we are usually busy trying to run the clinic and the English lessons. Before we know it, the time has gone by and it is time for us to leave. The kids that come to the English classes arrive early and are very energetic to be there. I realized that something that I previously considered to be simple like teaching the days of the week in English can make such a big impact.