Friday, January 9, 2015

What We Bring Back

Where do I begin?  I have had so many different experiences while down in Guatemala and they have all created fantastic memories already.  I have learned so much from both the people of Patanatic as well as my team members.  It is so hard to believe that we are approaching the last day of our trip.  It seems like yesterday that we started packing our bags full of medicine back at Xavier yet somehow this is our last day in the clinic.  Both of our physicians have been incredible to watch work and have taught all of us so much.  Over the past two days, I have been a part of two separate events that completely changed my experience while here.  The first experience took place after clinic on Tuesday when I went with Dr. Richard, Rabbi Abie, and Ashley to visit a woman that has been seen since the start of the clinic.  She is an older woman but was described as having a young spirit and being full of energy.  Unfortunately, we arrived at her house and were taken aback by her living conditions and her deteriorating health.  When we walked in the front door, we entered a pitch black hallway and almost had to feel our way down to the front of her room that served as her house.  She was huddled in her bedroom that had no windows, no carpet, and one single light in the corner.  I tried to recall the mental picture that Dr. Richards had created in my mind and compare it to this frail looking woman sitting under several shawls and could not see how this was the same woman.  It was shocking to see the how dark and cold it was in her room and how small it really was.  I left her house and almost felt depressed for the rest of the day thinking about how this poor woman should never be subjected to this type of living.  However, there was a moment of inspiration when Ashley served as our translator even though she kept trying to tell us that she was not good at Spanish.  She did a fantastic job and asked the exact questions that Dr. Richard wanted the answers to even before he asked.  Ashley was easily the hero of that visit and has remained humble enough to say that she doesn't know Spanish even when everyone else agrees that she is the most fluent student.

My second experience occurred on Wednesday during clinic hours when we traveled through Patanatic to check on the water filters that have been given to the people of the village.  We walked from house to house for several hours and, yet again, it was amazing to see the different living situations throughout the area.  We were able to see the two extremes of the socioeconomic classes when we entered houses that had new appliances, microwaves, and full electricity and then there were houses that did not have actual walls or floors and little to no electricity.  Later, during the group discussion, Dr. Richard mentioned a point that stuck with me and I know made many other people stop and think.  He said that we need to think about what we are bringing back with us from Guatemala, the lessons that we have learned and the memories that we made.  I know that there are memories, new ideas, and new friendships that are never going to fade.

Adam Spegele
Xavier University Class of 2016
Biology Major, Chemistry Minor
College of Arts and Sciences

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