Alumni Spotlight: Kristina Maxwell

Kristina is a physical therapist (physiotherapist) who works in private practice in the Cayman Islands.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose IVHQ due to their awesome reputation for affordable and well organized international volunteer opportunities. I chose the healthcare placement in Argentina because, as a qualified physical therapist, I wanted to use my specific skillset in a productive way to help with the goals of the project.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

IVHQ was so helpful throughout the process. Their "countdown" checklist is amazing and keeps the volunteers on track with getting things done in a timely fashion. They coordinated everything on the ground in Argentina (room and board, meals, airport pickup) and even assisted with booking tickets. I just had to make sure I followed the checklist.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I'd advise anyone doing this placement to stay positive and not to get discouraged.

The first few days of the placement I felt that I wasn't doing much. It's important to remember that most of the placements are able to run without volunteers due to necessity. Everyone, however, is so happy to have the volunteers there and I realize now that I really did make a difference.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

In my placement, my day started at ~9 am and ended around 1-2 pm (siesta time). I had to get up fairly early in order to have some breakfast and catch my bus. Then the bus ride was ~30 min to the clinic. It was very nice to have the afternoons off to explore Saldan/Cordoba and really nice to have the weekends free to experience all Argentina had to offer.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear was being alone. Though I'd "traveled" by myself before, I usually met friends or family at some point on the trip. However, the IVHQ staff was so friendly and helpful (orientation, cultural immersion tour, Spanish lessons, always being available via WhatsApp) and my host family embraced me like family as well.