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Costa Rica Pre-Med & Public Health (Session 1)

June 27, 2018

Hola me llamo Jack and today me and my group are in Costa Rica. There are 18 of us teens and 3 very good and capable leaders. The travel was very trying for many of us and we were all exhausted by the time we arrived in Costa Rica. We were offered snacks from the family running the hotel and we all sat around the table playing a funny card game leading us to embarrass ourselves and get to know each other. It’s only the first day and yet so far our trip has been beyond anything I could have comprehended. Our group is very tight-knit and we all enjoy being with each other and talking.

June 28, 2018

Today we woke up at 7:15am to eat breakfast as a family, then traveled to the clinic and got an orientation and split into 2 groups. One group stayed at the clinic and the other moved to a nearby pop-up clinic that had many children and and the group had fun playing with them, I’ve heard.  I was a part of the group that stayed at the clinic and was allowed into the doctor’s exam room where we could watch her work with patients and she would explain stuff to us. It was hard at first for me because they only spoke in Spanish and I only picked up a little bit from Spanish class but then the doctor would translate for us so it turned out alright. We saw some patients with very unique symptoms such as an infected dog bite and a unique trait of hypertension. My favorite patient today was a little girl who came in with asthma and we listened to her breath as it was ragged and she wasn’t feeling so good. But after our treatment we got to listen again, and she was breathing much better and had an adorable smile on her face. There was a fair bit of Spanish speaking for those parents who were concerned but we have people who can translate for us so we are able to form some type of communication.

On our way back to the hotel from the clinic we got to see central San Jose, the beautiful city we are in, and many of its inhabitants. We came back, decided on what kind of rules and expectations we held for each other and then walked over to a family diner nearby. One of the guides tells me that in Costa Rica they call family diners “Sodas” which is just a random fun fact for you guys. We came back and played more games and had fun and I can honestly say I love the people I’m traveling with because everyone is nice and it really feels like a home away from home. For all parents missing their children as much as we’re missing you, we are very happy with things and we hope to continue our adventure in this beautiful country while exploring medicine!

Pura vida!

Jack Y.

June 29, 2018

Today we woke up at 6:30, ate breakfast at 7:00, and drove to the clinic. The ride there was mostly uneventful, simply because everyone was still tired and many of us slept; myself included. At the clinic we were split into two groups, one group left and went to work at the soup kitchen/traveling clinic, the other group stayed. I was a part of the group that stayed a the main clinic. Our group was split into smaller groups to work in different areas of the clinic, the same thing was happening to the group at the soup kitchen. I was placed in reception today, which was very different from my experience in the examination room yesterday. It was so cool to get to speak to the patients and see firsthand the cultural differences. There were mostly mothers and their children at the clinic today. The little kiddos were super adorable and were very curious. Everyone worked until 12:00, then we all walked to get lunch, which was delicious. Our meal consisted of chicken, white rice, black beans, and veggies.

We then got on our bus and headed towards a “meeting with a retired history teacher” which was actually a surprise ice-cream break. The ice-cream was really yummy, the most popular flavors were cookie dough, mint chocolate, and coconut. I ordered coconut ice-cream, which my parents know I adore, and was not disappointed. After ice-cream we drove to the heart of San Jose and did a walking tour. We saw many things, including lovely architecture housing the congress, beautiful forest areas that were once zoos and memorial type building from a war long past, but never forgotten. After the walking tour we came back to the hotel and began dance class. The woman who came in taught us Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, and a mixture of other dances. It was fast paced and fun. Everyone enjoyed themselves and it was hilarious to watch everyone attempt to keep up with out teacher. After out class, the pizza arrived and everyone ate to their hearts content, meaning we had to order more pizza. In only three short days, the first a travel day, everyone has become so close. All the kids here are so kind and funny, and our leaders are so supportive and caring. This has been an amazing experience so far and im excited to continue this journey.
With love
~ Three fantastic leaders, 17 amazing kids with hearts of gold, and me, Chloe D.

June 30, 2018

We had an early wake up at 6am this morning in order to eat breakfast at 6:30 and load onto the bus by 7. The early wake up was for us to go to a farm owned and run by Crisley, who is the trip director of Global Works trips that take place in Costa Rica. Our drive to the farm lasted about two and a half hours and I spent the time drawing in my journal, reading, and sleeping. Once we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by Crisley and his children. He guided us through the area where they make a mozzarella-like cheese (called palmito in Spanish) and then we split into two groups to experience preparing the cheese ourselves. My group worked together to heat the pasteurized cheese and then rolled it into balls about the size of a softball, with some taste testing along the way. After my group finished and the other group was working, we sat outside and played with the family’s kitten. Once both groups were finished, we ate a delicious lunch of rice and chicken and salad prepared for us by Crisley’s wife, Patricia. After lunch, we went on a walking tour around the farm and learned about the medicinal properties of various South American plants that they grow. On the tour, we also got to try fresh mango, carambola (or star fruit), sugar cane, and see a poison dart frog up close. I really enjoyed learning about their family’s farm since I got to see sustainable farming up close. Once we came back to the house, we had the opportunity to pick up some souvenirs, and then we said goodbye to everyone and got on the bus to head over to our hotel. The new hotel we arrived at today is really beautiful and has a pool that we were able to swim in after we all got settled in. We had a lot of fun swimming together, relaxing, and taking pictures. After swimming, we ate dinner at the hotel and then spent time writing and reflecting on health and healing, as well as what we’ve learned from working in a public clinic so far. I am having a lot of fun, am learning a lot, and am looking forward to the next two weeks of our trip!


July 1,2018

Today we got to sleep in until breakfast at 8:15 am. We then went to an alternative health clinic here in La Fortuna where we were split into 4 stations to learn about Bach floral therapy, detox baths, massage, and biofeedback. After lunch we got to talk with a homeopathy specialist who told us about our bodies, energy and alternative treatment methods to western medicine. This was our favorite day so far because we found the alternative health concept very interesting. I personally agree with the idea that our emotional and spiritual well being have an effect on our physical health so learning more about alternative health was awesome.

July 2, 2018

Hey Its Gicel and Vicky and we were the leaders of the day . Today our group woke up pretty late compared to usual at 9:00 am , We had breakfast at 9:30 which consisted of something we have all been craving for a while… PANCAKES! .After breakfast we split up into two groups one group would swim at the pool while the other group would go on a short plant identification hike after an hour of each activity we would then switch groups . After an already pretty busy morning we would all get ready and dressed into our scrubs and made our way to the Florencia health clinic where we were greeted by a friendly staff member who gave us a power point presentation about the health care system in Costa Rica and the volunteer work that we will be doing for the next four days . We later took a small detour to a super market where we were all able to buy snacks that we’ve been missing since we left home . We then drove back to the hotel where we had an hour of free time before dinner and we played an interesting game where we all revealed a funny or interesting fact about ourselves leading to a closer bond between all the group members and We can finally say that we all feel comfortable between each other . After dinner it was time to wrap up the day and go to sleep just like its time to wrap up todays summary for the day .

yours truly , Gicel and Vicky (:

July 3, 2018

It’s been a beautiful day here in Costa Rica and I hope you are having a wonderful day yourself. We started the day off early with breakfast at 6:50 in the morning and left the hotel by 7:30. Each of us were split into four groups that went to clinics at either La Tigra, Platanar, Florenica, or Santa Clara. We all had different experiences but we each got to shadow doctors and get a first-hand view of how the clinics work at Costa Rica. Personally, my group got to see the doctor perform her daily routine of taking care of her patients. We also got to learn about pharmaceutical procedures and the uses of each medicine. It was interesting to see that the clinics had different methods of prescribing medicine in the event that their patients could not understand the instructions printed out for them. If a patient could not read, for example, the pharmacists would stick stickers that represented the time of day and the dosage they should take on a box containing their medicine. It is nice to see that the doctors are always mindful and considerate of their patients and the people in general. For lunch, each group ate in their local area with their own team. Albeit the entire group being split up, each team was able to bond with the people in their group more closely. We ended the day with dinner at the hotel and got to make small conversations here and there. This experience so far has been exciting and intriguing. I look forward to the rest of this trip and await the day we can return homes to tell you all about it. Have a wonderful day and stay beautiful!
With love, Brittney

July 4, 2018

Today was a busy but meaningful day! We began with with an 8:00 pancake breakfast, and loaded up the buses by 8:30. We took a quick drive to the La Tigra clinic to meet a local group and help them pick up trash around their neighborhood. We walked around, until lunch, collecting trash as well paying visits to homes in the community in order to spread awareness about the Dengue virus. Both of the tasks were important and necessary for the well being of the people of the community and the community itself. With the rainy season in Costa Rica comes mosquitos, bringing illnesses like Dengue. There are precautions people can take in order to lessen their risk, for example, preventing areas of still water on their property (which attract mosquitos). It was equally important that we did a trash pickup along the way. This cleaned up the area as well as set an example for the community, which we hope people will follow. Although the hot whether conditions were not ideal, we helped out the community, so it was worth it! We ate lunch at about noon, and then visited a social group for seniors. We were able to be part of their dance class, as well as share a classic American dance with them. We ended the afternoon with some games where all split into teams and competed against each other. Although we could not do a lot of verbal communication, we had fun bonding with, and getting to know them. Later in the day we traveled back to the hotel, had dinner, and received an orientation to our “homestays” which begin tomorrow.

Overall we had a great day!

July 5, 2018
We woke up at Heliconias hotel, had our last breakfast there, and started heading towards La Fortuna Waterfalls. To get to the waterfall we had to climb down endless stairs, but the walk was definitely worth the amazing view we encountered the splashing of the waterfall refreshed all of our ears and eyes, and everyone was busy taking pictures to capture the moment, right next to the waterfall was a swimming hole in with we all jumped in to cool down. After we got out of the water it started pouring, nonetheless all of us managed to climb back up the endless stairs with a few breaks in between to catch our breath of course. We changed into our dry clothing and drove urbanized area of La Fortuna. There, we were granted some free time to ourselves in smaller groups, we explored the town area, ate lunch and shopped for souvenirs to bring back home.

At 3, we all got back on the bus for an hour long ride to Veracruz, where we will be staying the next 5 days with host families. When we got there we were greeted by the whole town with their traditional dance performance. Two of our peers, Gicel and Chloe, bravely stepped up to sing in front of the crowd. Their singing was phenomenal! We had dinner together and then separated to our respective homestay families. We spent the night getting to know the family by playing games, dancing, and having conversations, we look forward to the next couple of days here!
Love, Angela

July 6, 2018
Hello Parents!
I hope you all had a great Fourth of July with your families!
Today was a really productive day. We first got to spend our breakfast with our new homestay families, getting to know them and our new “siblings” better. Judging how energetic everyone seemed today, it seemed that we all got enough sleep and have enjoyed being with our homestay families. After a hearty breakfast, we all gathered together at 8:30 at the location where we were to do our service work for our homestay community. To summarize, we were scheduled to paint the worn-down walls of a Rodeo Stadium. Before lunch (around noon), the group was able to finish the first part of the painting together (Teamwork!). Our homestay parents then came to pick us up and walk us back to our houses. We, all being famished, ate the healthy and tasty meal prepared for us by our families. After lunch, we all had some time to hang out and play with our families. At 2:00, we all went back to the Rodeo to do the second part of our service project. With teamwork, we also finished painting the second part in record-time. We then all split up at 4:00 and returned back to our homestay families. We were able to then spend the remaining time getting to have fun with our families and friends. We will begin tomorrow at the same time (granted that there is no rain) to continue helping our homestay community.

We are a bit over halfway through the trip and the things we have learned, seen, and done is already a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m sure we will never forget.
I hope we all will continue to have great experiences throughout the rest of this trip!
Jason L.

July 7, 2018

We woke up to the second morning with our host families in Veracruz. After breakfast, we came together to continue our work at the rodeo. from 9:00 to 12:00 we painted and worked on building a fence. At 12:00, groups went home for relax. After lunch, we returned to the work space to finish the doors and back walls. After we had a chance to go home and shower, we all came together again for tortilla making and potluck-style dinner with all of the families, we all got to make one or two each it was a hard process. Following dinner, families returned home to relax and go to bed.

Pura vida,

July 8, 2018

Hey my name is Rayanna and today there is a lot to tell you. Well, first we had a pretty early morning wake up and work; 8:30am to 11:45am. Today we came ready to work, yet we had no idea that we would be dancing all morning. When we arrived, i explained the day to the fellow students we decide to practice our dance for the farewell party later this evening. It took a while to figure out a song everyone would dance to until we came to an agreement that Skylin,Vicky, and myself would teach them how to do the “Wobble”. As we taught the rest of the group, they caught on quickly. We came up with a dance sequence and added two songs so that we could create a dance tunnel and plan to include our families in the dance. We practiced until snack break at a little before 11:00. After snack, some kids volunteered to practice solo performances for the party. Alaina was first up doing a solo, Her voice is AMAZING. Next, all 5 guys, Jack, Anthony, Enrique, Sam, and Jason singing “Take me to church”. Finally, we did a full run though of our whole group dances. We broke for lunch at 11:45am and came back together at 4 for our party. In the meantime people used this extended break to nap, practice more, shower, get ready, go on adventures, etc. We all met back up around 4 where the party started we all brought our families and friends. we began with soccer, volleyball and basketball; just little games for people to connect and have fun. When the games stopped, it was time to get serious. All 18 of us students said some words to our homestay families, thanking them for the past four days; some moms even teared up. In my opinion they think of us as there own from just the 5 days they’ve known us. But its been one amazing experience! We went through and showed them all the love and appreciation they deserve. We then got the music and the singing going; we preformed the songs and dance we practiced all morning. It was a very joyful night, one we will remember!

Rayanna G.

July 9, 2018
Hi, my name is Colleen and I was the group leader for today. Today was our last day for working and living in our homestay. Everyone had to be at the work spot at 8:30 am ready to be painting but since it was raining, we started to work at about 9:45. We finished painting the back of the main hall where we had dinner the first night, the back of the bathrooms and the outer walls of the salon communal. We stopped for a two hour lunch break at around 11:45 and returned back at about 2. We worked very hard for another two hours until our hard work was finished. After our work was complete, we all looked back at the work we had done. I realized how our work had helped benefit a community. If we had not came and worked on the building, the people of the community would have had to hire a painter to paint it for them and it would not have the same meaningful effect that it does now. Everyone worked a total of five hours a day for four days; which is a total of twenty hours of work per person. After work, we had the night to spend time with our families and pack for out trip to Monteverde the next morning. My host mom took Sarah, Chloe and I to get our nails done by one of her closest friends at her house. My host mom’s friend was Enrique and Jason’s mom and we got to hang out there until about 9:30. While at their house, I realized how close my host mom was with all of her friends and how they act more like a family than friends. After we left Enrique and Jason’s house, Chloe, Sarah and I had dinner and got to spend time with our host mom, dad and sister. We went to bed after we packed for out adventure for Monteverde the next morning. Today was an amazing day and one that I will remember!

July 10, 2018
Hey, it’s Skylin! So today we woke up and had breakfast around 7:30am. It was definitely a very sad day because we had to say goodbye to our homestay families. After shedding a couple of tears we got on the bus for the 4 hour ride to Monte Verde. We got to town at around 1pm and had lunch at a really nice restaurant. After, we went to Ana’s house to have a talk about alternative health. She spoke about how she uses different plants to cure certain things or to prevent sicknesses which was pretty cool. We then got to the hotel that we’re staying at and had about 2 hours to rest and settle in. After those 2 hours it was about 6:15pm which was time for dinner. We went to a nice Italian restaurant where we had pizza, spaghetti, and chicken fingers with fries. We got back to the hotel and had a small refection based on our homestay experience. We then had time to chill and went to bed after.
Con mucho amor,
Skylin P.

July 11, 2018 
Hey Parents!
It’s Anthony and Enrique! Today was an incredibly eventful day especially since it was our second to last day here. Our first surprise of the day was that our breakfast time was at 9, which was unusual as we typically eat breakfast at 8 (ish). After we had great french toast for breakfast, we were all yearning to go zip lining at 10:30. The zip lining center was a quick 10 minute drive, yet it felt much longer as we were so excited. When we arrived, we were appalled by the screaming sounds that became more frequently heard as we lined up to zip line. However, it was actually a thrilling experience as the rain whipped our faces and we were at such a high elevation. The only downside to this experience was the temperature in the cloud forest. With most people used to warm weather, the sudden cold rain and temperature drop was surprising to say the least. With everyone dripping wet but smiling, we left the zip lining center at 12. After a hot shower and changing into warm clothes, we were allowed to go into Monte Verde to get lunch. Lunch was amazing and some people got coffee after, while others bought gifts/souvenirs. We were supposed to walk back to the hotel at 4, however, we were headstrong, which ended with a group of 10 taking a wrong turn. This was quite a experience as we had a few language barriers as we slowly found our way back. Yet, we were saved by our amazing counselor Ashley, riding in her shining white bus! We later wrote a reflection about the entire trip and laughed about our experiences together.
Anthony C. & Enrique Z.