My trip to Jamaica was one that I will never forget. It came in a time of great personal growth and development in my life. As a college student, I often feel as if I am in limbo between my undergraduate and professional career. However, Jamaica brought these two together. Never before did I feel so right with what I was doing. This is not to say that I have never worked in medicine or with patients; I have spent a great deal of time in research and participated in an earlier medical mission in Nicaragua. However, Jamaica stands out for countless reasons.
First, the people of Jamaica made the trip so memorable. We were on the ground working out of churches and community centers. Because our patient population came directly from the surrounding neighborhood, we briefly experienced being a part of their community. In one instance, we saw four generations of a family come through the clinic during a single day.
Some of the people we met were not necessarily patients but representatives of the religious community. One night we sat down with a Rastafarian who talked with us about his beliefs. This gave us an entirely different perspective on religion. While many of us understood religion to be founded on the dogma a sect of people holds in common, he proposed that Rastafari is very much the opposite. He insisted it is a simply a way of life celebrated differently by every
Additionally, we had the privilege of sitting down with an Islamic Imam, who talked with us about the pillars of his faith. Interfaith was a much needed component of the trip. In our time of deep questioning, it allows us to better understand our place in the world through the faith traditions of those around us.
Medically, the trip was equally outstanding. Not only did we have the privilege of shadowing three excellent health professionals, but we were directly involved with the well being of our patients. After proper training, students took vitals, abstracted medical notes, and prepared medications. After returning to Xavier, this aspect of the trip will help encourage us in our studies by giving a taste of what we are working towards.