Carmen is the Program Assistant for Interfaith Community Engagement. She graduated from Xavier in 2009 with a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Childhood Education.
It’s amazing how one decision can open a door for an opportunity. When I decided to leave my job in Louisiana this past spring, I had no idea where God was placing me. Returning to my second hometown of Cincinnati made me anxious but I was confident it was the right decision. Somehow Rabbi and I crossed paths and given the chance to become a team. Everything that has been thrown at us over the past couple of months was in preparation for this trip. The ups and downs, the twists and turns, the laughs and cries….they were necessary. This trip to Guatemala was my first out-of-country experience. I consider it the ultimate blessing to have spent it with such wonderful people. Now I can’t imagine traveling any other way. Repeat experiences every time I hope!
Guatemala was…I can’t even place words on my experience…maybe one…AMAZING!
After all the fundraising and meetings, I was able to see the hard work come to fruition. I still had no idea what I was getting into. My role in the trip was a “behind the scenes” type of function. Planning, collecting paperwork, and executing certain aspects of the trip were all my responsibility. Under the guidance of Rabbi, who is the most organized person I know, I still felt a little overwhelmed and stressed that I was in over my head. Before our trip, Rabbi warned me that although I was hands-on with the students preceding the trip, things would change during the trip. The students’ true “rock stars” would become the doctors. Poor team “Rabcar” (failed attempt at combining Rabbi+Carmen) would be kicked to the curb.
Truthfully, no one was abandoned in any kind of way. Our team was very family-oriented. Compliments and praises were given every day, help was provided at every station in the clinic, and we rarely went out to eat or shopping without taking a large group.
I learned so much from every member on the trip and I am grateful for that. Our students showed wisdom beyond their years, the doctors brought compassion to their practice of medicine, the nurses brought such humor and grace to what they did, and Rabbi was a wonderful teacher as always. Each day was a learning and growing opportunity for me. Being in charge of directing the clinic and keeping track of patients and rotation of students became easier as the days passed because my team continually encouraged me. Although I did not have an opportunity to shadow the doctors, I now realize that I did not have to be part of an examination on a patient to see change. The joy I was able to experience when patients gave out hugs and kisses for the medical care they received still remains in my heart. It was quite overwhelming to see patients with aliments that, although not life-threatening, were taxing because they did not have the money to take care of them. For some, a simple prescription of Tums, Tylenol, athlete’s foot medication helped alleviate discomfort. Can you imagine running to hug and kiss someone because you received those meds? I can’t, or couldn’t before I went on this trip. It’s because I took for granted the easy access I have to many things in the USA.
We brought medical care to the Mayan community, but they brought us so much more. I am grateful for my experiences and for my family Team Guatemala.