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- I went on this trip 2 years ago. It was one of the best summers of my ...
- You know, Broadreach trips are always awesome, full of great memories, ...
- When you look back on your trip, you won't think "I did one really amazing ...
- A letter from Wilderness Medical Associates
- Our son just came back from the trip of a lifetime with Broadreach! Not ...
- The trip was really incredible. Our entire group got along perfectly ...
- This trip was absolutely brilliant. From the moment we arrived, the group ...
- This was a terrific trip for my daughter. Although the WFR class was ...
- My son is thinking about becoming a doctor. That is why we chose this ...
- This was my son's second trip with Broadreach. He enjoyed the program ...
- My Broadreach trip was amazing. Although I was nervous, all my worries ...
- Video: Hear why Emma loved studying medicine in Belize
- This is a fantastic trip for everyone, whether they're interested in ...
- Video: Hear what Megan said about studying medicine in Belize
- I thought this trip was amazing. I loved every place we went to and I ...
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The potholes bounced the bus up and down as we drove along a dirt road to the tiny agrarian town of Caledonia. The remote village is approximately 150 miles south of Cancun in the proud country ...The potholes bounced the bus up and down as we drove along a dirt road to the tiny agrarian town of Caledonia. The remote village is approximately 150 miles south of Cancun in the proud country of Belize. It is a sugar cane village and nearly everyone in town is connected to this vital crop. Once each year, a doctor will come with volunteers and run the town health clinic. It's a small, clean building with six rooms, one devoted to a poorly stocked pharmacy and the others to waiting and exam rooms. I was in Belize with a group learning about Mayan and wilderness medicine and I was eager to put my new medical knowledge to the test. The group of eleven kids and I were nervous about operating the clinic by ourselves; however, we knew that we could handle the task. For two and a half weeks we had been studying together and performing scenarios to earn our Wilderness First Responder certification.
The night before we ran the clinic, we walked around Caledonia, going from one colorful house to the next, telling people that the clinic was open and welcoming them to come see the doctor. Everyone seemed delighted to hear about the clinic, so much so that we were given dinner at many of the houses. I was struck by their generosity because they barely make enough money for themselves, but do not hesitate to offer food to total strangers. Late that night, after planning for the next day and reviewing our jobs, I climbed into bed but could barely sleep from excitement.
The next morning I woke up with butterflies in my stomach, having no idea what to expect. As I walked across the village to the clinic, more and more people poured out of their homes and onto the unpaved street. By the time I got to the building, I was surrounded by kids wrestling in the dirt, babies crying from the heat, and old women peacefully waiting in the shade.
To begin the day, I was assigned to work in the pharmacy and instantly the prescriptions started coming in. Running back and forth from the doctor's office to the pharmacy and bringing medicines to the patients was not an easy job. The most common sickness in the village was the flu, but we saw a number of people with cancer, diabetes, and infections. The medicine and vitamins went fast and soon we were unable to fill many of the doctor's prescriptions. It made me appreciate how lucky I am to have access to such good care and medicine in the U.S.
It was my turn to sit in the exam room and observe the doctor care for patients. Many patients came through the office but one sticks out in my memory. She was a Garifuna woman in a vibrant flower patterned dress with two little kids hugging her knees. The three had walked four miles from Corozal, a small town to the west. She wanted to do a pregnancy test and her baby daughter had the flu. When I brought back the positive pregnancy test she was so happy that she swept me up in a huge hug. Her embrace surprised me, but it felt great to bring someone that much joy. We started talking about the Garifuna culture, and the next thing I knew, she was teaching our entire group her native dance and cultural drum beats. All twelve of us were rotating our hips and swinging our arms to the Punta dance in no time.
After a long day of work we assembled in the town center to meet with some of the village leaders. They were thankful for our help and wanted us to come back and visit. Although sadly, it was time to leave the little town of Caledonia, I was content. I think that I want to study medicine. I also want to learn more about Belize and other parts of Central America. That evening I realized that I may not be back to Caledonia anytime soon. However, connecting to people through serving them, sharing a meal with them, and even taking an impromptu dance lesson are vivid memories. I knew I could never forget the incredible sensation of helping complete strangers and being truly appreciated.
The scene was horrific; everyone’s worst nightmare. Four people were trapped inside an SUV, a woman was wedged underneath. The screams of those who were still conscious seemed to penetrate my ...The scene was horrific; everyone’s worst nightmare. Four people were trapped inside an SUV, a woman was wedged underneath. The screams of those who were still conscious seemed to penetrate my bones and I quickly took a deep breath to calm myself. I was the rescuer; I had a job to do.
Maneuvering around the chaos, I popped open the back left car door and saw my first victim: a teenage girl. Working quickly, I assessed her situation using the emergency protocol. The patient was on the verge of losing consciousness and on her forehead was a two inch laceration, bleeding profusely. Grabbing a wad of gauze, I pressed it firmly to the wound, hoping to quickly stop the bleeding. My other hand worked quickly to wipe dripping blood from her ear and cheeks. At the same time, my rescue partner informed me that our patient’s pulse and respiration were increasing. Her ICP was increasing too; she had to be evacuated. I lifted the gauze off her forehead to check her bleeding but immediately froze. The wound had stuck to the gauze! In the intense Belizean sun, the fake wax laceration had melted, welding itself to the fabric. My victim’s eyes were now wide open, a smile spreading over her face. Laughing and shaking my head, I attempted to peal the sticky wax off the gauze but I was mostly unsuccessful. I had gone into this Wilderness First Responder (WFR) simulation ready for everything; everything but this.
I traveled last summer to Belize for multiple reasons. The first was to explore my interest in medicine and train to become a Wilderness First Responder (basically an EMT for the wilderness). In fact, most of the time on the trip was spent either in WFR training or in activities based on medical training, such as creating and running a free clinic in a village and working in a regional hospital. My second reason was to escape my friends. Having been at the same school for fourteen years, my friends are like an extension of my family. They’re awesome. Actually, my friends are so amazing that I haven’t ever tried to find new ones. The thought of immersing myself in a situation with sixteen strangers was very intriguing. My third reason for taking this trip seemed the easiest: take advantage of every new experience possible. That would be easy, right? I would go spelunking, try new foods and work on my Spanish all at the same time. Little did I know the new foods would include termites and scorpions, and working on my Spanish really meant resorting to hand signals and laughter.
Although it would seem my biggest challenge in Belize would be balancing my work (yes, we had homework during the course) and play time, it wasn’t. Finding time to work was the easy part, especially when I had hammocks to read in and friends to study with. The lack of clean clothes, one hundred degree days and my ninety-two bug bites were definitely worse. Instead of distracting me, the great environment helped me focus and my hard work paid off; I surprised myself by earning a 94 in the course. I am now a card-carrying “woofer.”
The company advertising my trip to Belize said that you could earn a Wilderness First Responder certification. What they should have also said was you can find best friends, learn to hand wash your clothes before college, conquer your fear of the dark and find your independence. Although the trip was amazing and I couldn’t be more proud that I earned my WFR certification, I am the most proud that I did it by myself; no parents, no long-time friends, just me. When I am at home, yes, my friends give me the confidence to try new things. But, my self-confidence is just as strong when I am on my own, and when I go to college next year, I’ll be ready for anything. I am a termite eating, tarantula taming, “woofer”, after all.
Molly Rosen, WTM21
Covered in blood, I crouched down on the floor, a screaming patient in my arms. With one hand I searched aimlessly for a bandage to wrap around the wounded leg. Sweat poured down every inch ...Covered in blood, I crouched down on the floor, a screaming patient in my arms. With one hand I searched aimlessly for a bandage to wrap around the wounded leg. Sweat poured down every inch of my body and I realized I wasn't going to find anything - it was too dark and all the medical supplies had been used up. I wrapped my arms around the girl and told her everything was going to be okay but all she could do was scream.
Suddenly, the lights flickered on as my instructor yelled "STOP!" I glanced around the now dimly lit room at my fellow classmates who, like me, were coated with fake blood and soaked with sweat. I offered my hand to my friend and pulled her off the ground as she apologized for being such an uncooperative patient. Everyone began to clean up the mess we had made during the chaotic medical simulation and while most people complained, I smiled to myself more satisfied than ever.
For the past three weeks I had been in Belize with a group of twelve high school students completing a first responder course in a wilderness setting sponsored by Broadreach. Each day we woke up in sweltering jungle heat and practiced medial scenarios, studied different protocols for treating patients, and prepared for our final exam.
At the end of our training, my group ran a medical clinic for one day in a local village. We split into groups and created stations. We ran the reception desk, checking people in and filing information. We worked at the "vitals station" taking patients' blood pressure, pulse, respirations, height and weight. As "La Doctora" met with patients, we watched and then took the diagnosis and prescription to the pharmacy where we worked to fill prescriptions and explain to the patients when and how to take the medications. Our groups rotated among stations in the clinic so we each had the opportunity to try everything, including trying to take the vital signs of a screaming child.
When we completed our work in the clinic, we all lived with native families for three days. To me, this opportunity to live with a family was a bonus in my trip to Belize: I was able to live with a native family in their home. My friend and I lived in the home of a single mother and her young daughter. My friend spoke little Spanish so I had the difficult responsibility of translating the conversations between the family and my friend. The nine year old girl, Sheila, was very shy at first, but we soon became best friends as we danced to Shakira together. After one day, Sheila's mother said to me "It's a miracle." As I stared at her confused, she explained to me that Sheila had been very upset since her father and brothers moved out many months ago and she refused to talk. Her mother told me Sheila had never been so happy since my friend and I arrived and spent time with her. As we left, I will never forget the way Sheila put her arms around me, crying, and saying "I will miss you." In only three days I developed such a strong bond with these people and they will always feel like family.
After such an intimate experience, medically and with my family, I learned a great deal. Sitting there in the middle of chaos in Belize, trying to calm a shrieking girl on the one hand, and connecting so easily with Sheila on the other, reminded me of what I do best: I help people. Whether I become a doctor or not, I will always make public service a part of my life.
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The Parent Paper
Academic Treks is a great option for teens who want to go beyond the world they know and come back with new-found knowledge and respect for other cultures and themselves.