My stay in Nicaragua was my first experience away from home alone, and it was definitely an experience of a lifetime. The Global Works leaders were accommodating and approachable, and I was ecstatic to discover the similarities I shared with many of the other people on the trip. To this day, I am still in touch with the wonderful people in my group; we still share memories from this life-changing trip that brought us together. It was a thrill to be immersed in the rich, colorful Nicaraguan culture filled with amiable, welcoming Nicaraguans. Although there was often a language barrier, we had laughs about the misconceptions that resulted, and our leaders were helpful in clearing the misunderstandings.
During the clinical rotations, I found myself comparing the Nicaraguan practices with the procedures in the U.S., and I was amazed by the marginal differences. For example, while gauze is manually folded and sterilized in Nicaragua, it is crafted by machines in the U.S. Furthermore, before this trip, I had only heard about the poverty and resource shortages in developing countries--living in these conditions made them a reality. I truly learned to appreciate the luxuries in the U.S. that I had taken for granted my entire life such as hot showers, excellent drainage, clean water, air conditioning, technology, wifi, and our seemingly endless supply of medicine (pharmacies in Nicaragua frequently ran out of medicine, as they often received merely one shipment each month). Moreover, it was rewarding to see the community's appreciation for our service projects. I cannot express how rewarding it felt to see the community's gratitude for our contributions. The mere knowledge that I had made a difference in the community was comforting.
Witnessing these critical conditions firsthand has raised my awareness of developing countries' conditions; overall, this experience has motivated me to take action, because it is truly rewarding to make a difference in peoples' lives.