Published: June 18th 2012June 18th 2012
In one week I will be leaving for Duran, Ecuador (right outside of Guayaquil on the map). I will be living with a host familiy and volunteering in various clinics throughout the area. 3 other women medical students will be traveling with me.
At this point, just about a week before I depart for Ecuador, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed that I’m not quite sure what to expect from this experience. Of course I have read the Physicians for Humanity Orientation Guide 10+ times and asked the MSIIs various questions. I have done internet research and read books, but the anxiety of not being able to fully prepare myself is still unnerving.
On the positive end, I can’t wait to meet my host family. I can only imagine how nice and accommodating these families must be since they invite students to live in their homes every year. I am also looking forward to working in the clinics, especially the Padre Damien House. I have never seen anyone with leprosy, let alone had the chance to work with them, so I am intrigued by this
opportunity. Being able to practice my OMM skills in the clinics is a huge
plus as well. Probably the thing I am most looking forward to though is learning about the culture in Duran and Ecuador as a whole. Living with the host families will afford a wonderful opportunity to be truly absorbed into the culture.
Of course I am apprehensive as well, especially since I’m not sure what to expect. I wonder how I will be able to keep in touch with my family and friends. I wonder if my Spanish will be competent enough to communicate effectively and efficiently. I worry that my medical knowledge isn’t far enough along to understand all I will want to understand while working in the clinics. I am also concerned about the attention we may get. I generally don’t like being the center of attention, and I know that we will stick out of the crowd in Ecuador because of our physical appearances and accents. That part will take some getting used to for me.
Overall though, I am grateful for this opportunity. I anticipate a very humbling learning experience with some fun thrown in. I am optimistic that my Spanish language skills will be sufficient initially and will improve during my trip. I hope to be able to absorb as much of the culture as possible. After all the worrying, in my heart I know this will all work out well.