It’s 3 am. Nine Jesuit students, five medical professionals, Mr. Von, and Mrs. Sanchez all stumble into DFW airport. With them, they each carry at least one, black, 50-pound supplies bag along with a bag for their personal belongings. Ten hours later, the group lands in Guatemala City. They wait for Mr. Von to go through immigration and customs with the supplies bags. Two hours later, they finally get through, and the group stuffs all of their belongings into two mid-sized vans. They begin to embark on a four-hour drive down winding, single-laned roads to a camp.
During the fall of 2018, a group of Medical Society juniors and seniors applied to join a journey to aid the people of Guatemala for four days. A short time after they applied, the Medicine Drive kicked off, bringing in over 300 pounds of donated medicine that would be brought down to Guatemala with the group.
Jesuit’s medical society is a club that exposes students to the field of medicine. The club offers a variety of after-school classes including microbiology, organic chemistry, structure-function labs, etc. Aside from that, you can take part in clinical rotations at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital, go on the mission trip, and do many other things with the club to become involved in medicine.
The group stayed in Guatemala from March 6-10 in a newly built lodging site made by Vivamos Mejor. They enjoyed homemade meals that included everything from classic Guatemalan breakfasts to American chicken-fried steak. One of the most comforting things at the site was the number of docile dogs that would roam the campsite and socialize when the group came out. Vaughn Camp ’19 became especially close with one of the puppies, naming her “Precious” and tending to her often.
On a typical day, the whole group would wake up at around 6:30 AM and head to the food-hall by 7:00 to eat breakfast and hopefully be on the road by 8:00. Once arriving at a small village roughly 10 minutes away, students and adults set up the clinic and started to see patients as soon as they could. On the first day, the group saw around 40 patients in total, treating anything and everything from toothache to back pain.
All the students shadowed a different department, which included: triage, pediatrics, general medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and family medicine. While all of the rotations were insightful and fun, most of the students favored triage and dentistry the most.
Triage was run by nurse Paige and included two students helping her acquire patient information and vitals before sending them off to a certain department. This was the most hectic rotation, as the students needed to get the patients through as fast as they could. This was made especially difficult by the language barrier between English and Spanish speakers.
In the part of Guatemala the group traveled to, normal Spanish would rarely be heard or understood by the people in the villages. The in the Santa Cruz La Lengua village largely spoke a native dialect of Spanish called Kaqchikel. This often made communication with the patients difficult, as the majority of the doctors and students realistically only knew introductory Spanish, translators needed to translate from Kaqchikel to Spanish, then Spanish to English.
The dentistry clinic was run by two Jesuit Dallas Graduates, Dr. Justin Mosely ‘04 and Dr. Tim Robinson ‘76. They each set up their own station including a portable dentistry box with the tools an everyday dentist would use in the US. The students assisted the doctors in their treatment and opened their eyes to the field of dentistry.
Camp noted that he really enjoyed the trip “because it helped [him] explore [his] passion for dentistry even further and helped [him] realize that [dentistry] is actually what [he] wants to pursue in life.”
The group’s last day in Guatemala entailed helping patients from 8-12:30, after which they all packed into the vans for an hour car ride to the other side of Lake Atitlán and the main tourist destination in the area. This city, Panajachel, has tons of little shops that are filled with vibrant and colorful clothing and other little trinkets to take home.
Overall, this year’s mission trip to Guatemala helped open the eyes of all nine boys that attended to how those less fortunate than us live in third-world countries. Working ten hour days with no air conditioning was really the factor that made students realize how blessed we are in the United States. Being away from normal civilization, social media, and technology also gave everyone an opportunity to become one with themselves and appreciate what life is like without modern technology. Working these arduous hours confirmed the Jesuit students to the ideal of service above self and allowed them to make strong friendships with one another that’ll last a lifetime.
Stay tuned to The Roundup for more news from Jesuit’s medical society!