Reflection 9

I have participated in a service abroad opportunity before. At the time it seemed like a really powerful experience, but looking back I’m not sure how effective it was. I went with a team of doctors and nurses to the Dominican Republic to serve in the barrios in makeshift clinics. Some of the places other groups from the same program had visited before. We traveled with native Dominican translators, as well as several doctors who worked with our volunteer organization in the Dominican Republic full time. The organization had a steady presence in the community. However, in the barrios they expressed concern with the spotty treatment that the people received. They were given medication for a month, but with a condition like diabetes, a month of medication simply would not cut it. Many of the people lived too far from the clinic, or did not have a local clinic to continue getting medication from. Still, perhaps this one month of diabetes care was better than nothing. I worry that the presence of this free clinic might have impeded the efforts of local clinics. I know that for treatment in the clinic that the organization was based out of, payment was required. This could alleviate the competition for local clinics. Overall, I think that there are worse volentourism organizations, but I still think the help we did was overestimated. It was probably more to make the doctors and nurses feel better about themselves.
In the future, I’m strongly considering joining the Peace Corps after graduation and deferring my acceptance to medical school. I know that several of my top schools have deferral programs set up specifically for students who want to participate in programs like the Peace Corps and Teach for America. I could apply my knowledge of economics to economic development programs. Alternately, I could work in a clinic or with a public health sector, which would be great experiences to have before going into med school. I know that I want to do something to serve others, and the Peace Corps is a very established and long-term opportunity that could do real and lasting good. At the same time, I would be learning useful skills and spending two years abroad. I think it’s a great opportunity, one that I hope to explore more in the coming years.

One thought on “Reflection 9”

  1. Your volunteering abroad trip sounds amazing, and I admire your honest analysis that it may have been a program that benefitted the volunteers more in the long run than the recipients of your work. I’m sure you still did a lot of good, whatever the case may be! As far as the future goes, do you have a specific area in mind that you’d like to volunteer with the Peace Corps in? Would you be comfortable learning a new language or would you like to utilize the skills in the languages you’ve already studied?

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