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Brother Rice High School Costa Rica Pre Med Program

February 16, 2020

We began our day by waking up fairly early to one of the most beautiful views we have ever seen. We then enjoyed an incredibly delicious breakfast right by the pool overlooking the valley. Our introductions were a great way to get to learn a few interesting facts about each other and have some laughs. The highlight of our day was when we were visited by a local physician who explained the mechanics of a heart beat and described the medical care system of the country. It was quite interesting to learn about their free health care system and comparing it to the United States. We then headed to mass and were blessed by a special celebration of the 100th anniversary of their church. This included a unique procession and ended with a mass. We ended the night by eating another home cooked meal and playing poker.

-Gabriel B.

February 17, 2020

Today, I woke up around 6:30 A.M. We all got dressed and went to eat breakfast at the main house of the Casa Cielo Grande at 7:00 A.M. The breakfast prepared for us included toast with butter and jam, rice and beans, and scrambled eggs with ham. We had lemon water and apple juice to drink with the meal. Afterwards, we left the hotel and hopped in the bus to the FIMRC clinic. After about twenty minutes into the bus ride, the bus got a flat tire. Jorge, Mrs. Chumiecki, and Mr. Krysiak, as well as the bus driver, fixed the problem, and we continued on our way to the clinic. After about an hour, we reached the clinic, and the people working there described to us what we were going to do throughout the time we would volunteer there. For my first rotation, Gabriel B. and I shadowed the main physician at the clinic, Dr. Karen. In total, we were able to observe four of Dr. Karen’s patients. The first patient we observed had a very emotional background that she described to the doctor in Spanish, and Dr. Karen translated what she said to Gabe and I. The woman was a refugee from Nicaragua, and about a year ago, she fled from Nicaragua to Costa Rica with two of her six children. The other four children are adults and decided to remain in Nicaragua. When the woman reached Costa Rica, once here she went through some traumatic experiences. The whole time that she was describing her story, she was shedding a tremendous amount of tears. At that moment, I had felt for her tremendously, as I could never imagine what it would be like to go through what she went through. The emotional and psychological effect that this must have on her is unreal. I truly felt sad for this woman, who was crying all her emotions out. Dr. Karen checked the places in the woman’s body that were causing her pain to make sure she was physically normal. The woman then brought in her two children: one boy and one girl. All three of the patients had mainly emotional and psychological issues, and Dr. Karen referred them to the psychologist in the clinic. The next patient was a man, who was a heavy smoker, smoking twenty-five cigarettes a day since he was thirteen years old. He is now fifty-one. The main thing Dr. Karen told him to do was to quit smoking, and she referred him to another medical facility to receive further examination. The third patient had an issue with her breast, and her daughter, who came with her, had breathing problems. Dr. Karen prescribed some pills to the woman and her daughter. The last patient had a leg ulcer, and Dr. Karen cut off all of the dead skin around her ulcer to improve her healing.

After the last patient, it was time for lunch time. We had rice with chicken and beans, as well as chips and beans. We then proceeded to our second rotation. For Gabe and I, we mainly worked in the waiting room. It wasn’t that busy in the second rotation, so we only took the blood pressure and measured the patients weight while communicating with them. After our rotations, we made a poster about the Coronavirus to make patients aware of it.

We left the clinic and headed to get ice cream, which was about an hour and a half bus ride. We headed back to the hotel, which took about twenty minutes. We arrived around 5:00 P.M. and relaxed until about dinner time, which was. 6:45 We ate pasta and beef for dinner and had a little debrief afterwards on how the day went. We also discussed our upcoming days. Then we were allowed to relax and rest for the rest of the night.

-Christian S.

February 18, 2020

Today we woke up at around 6:00 am, we had to wake up early and have our luggage ready because we were leaving the hotel, then at 7:00 am we went to have breakfast, we had delicious pancakes and eggs. Then after breakfast was finished we loaded the bus and headed to the clinic. On the bus ride most of us just slept, it was a really long bus ride so it was a good chance to catch up on some sleep.

Yesterday some of us took inventory of the pills and filled out the prescriptions for the patients. Today we switched work stations some worked at the front desk, helping take peoples blood pressure and weight, and some worked in the physician’s office, observing the doctor treat the patients. Between our time working the front desk and the physician’s office some of us played soccer with a young boy, but instead of a soccer ball we used one small toy so that the ball wouldn’t bounce around and break anything. We had a homemade lunch which was really really good.

At around 3 O’clock we got on the bus to go to the new hotel. This bus ride was even longer than the previous ride, so we had a lot of time to talk, play games, and enjoy beautiful landscapes. At around 6:20 we arrived at the hotel. The hotel is amazing, we have three people to a room, and it’s almost like our own little neighborhood, all the hotel rooms are on the street right across from the pool. After we got our bags and got ourselves situated in the hotel we had dinner at 6:30, which was chicken and veggies (we all really liked it), afterwards we had a small logistical meeting to define our activities for tomorrow and then played in the pool until 7:30. The pool was very interesting, there was one side that was hot and another side was cold; we were all pretty cold, so most of us stayed on the warm side of the pool.

– Russell K.

February 19, 2020

Today, we went to the community of La Lucha and planted a variety of trees. Some of the trees were fruit-bearing which will help feed the mammals and birds that occupy the forest. The other trees were strictly wood-based meaning that the trees will help with the forest cycle and the cleansing of the air. It felt great to plant these trees because it is easy to visualize the positive effect they will have on the environment. The trees also gave us a sense of how much work goes into replacing a forest after it was cleared to be farm land for a while.

After planting the trees, we walked further into the forest  to see an aqueduct that serves as a clean water source for over 6,000 people. This water was crystal clear and drinkable, so we filled our water bottles with it. Before heading back for lunch, we ate a snack of fresh watermelon and cantaloupe our driver picked up at the super market. We changed into our swimsuits once we got back to the lodge and we took a bus to a restaurant for lunch. The lunch consisted of shrimp or beef with rice and plantain chips. It was delicious and we were served amazing fruit smoothies and homemade ice cream that was very smooth and unforgettable.

Next, we bussed to a waterfall that was in a part of the rain forest.  After hiking down into the base, we swam in the cool water for a bit and took pictures of the waterfall. The waterfall itself was beautiful and seeing it was a once in a lifetime experience. Then, we came back to the lodge and ate dinner which consisted of rice, chicken, and a salad with tomatoes and lettuce. The food was very delicious-like always-and is unique to this part of Costa Rica. Finally, we played a huge game of soccer and football at the hotel’s field to wrap up the day. Mr. K was on fire as a keeper making magnificent saves including a 4 on 1 stop. At the end of the day, I realized how fast this trip is going and I have made many memories so far that I will never forget.
–  Nick P.

February 20, 2020

Today the group went to a recycling place where we did a bunch of cool things. We went to a small town about 20 minutes from the resort. When we stopped, we met two very nice ladies that didn’t call us gringos which was cool. The recycling plant, compared to the United States, was very tiny. The only roof was sheet metal and was held up by wood planks. There was a lot to be done. We sorted plastic, including cutting out tape and separating the hard plastic and the soft plastic. Then we smashed metal cans so they could also be recycled. We also painted a sign telling people to put their trash. I, personally, saw some cool dogs, and this one dog was low-key vibing and chilling in the sun. When we got done with the recycling plant, we came back to the hotel and had some downtime in order to rest. I listened to “Don’t you forget about me” by simple minds. You know the one in the breakfast club. After a quick little “siesta” we went on a hike through the rainforest. There was almost no light coming through the very dense trees, and we were very immersed in the forest. It was a really cool experience and was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Then, when it started to get a little darker outside, we saw some nocturnal frogs including a glass frog, where you can see the internal organs, and the red eyed tree frog with little orange toes. He was cool.  We had pasta for dinner and very rich cheesecake for dessert. After that some people went off and played cards and others started to calm down. I can’t believe that we come home Saturday. I assure you we all miss our parents and we all love Costa Rica.

– John R.