Susan Morand ’18 (pre-health studies/psychology)

On Friday, June 24…

The past several weeks, I have continued to get to know and love the lively clinic staff, Dayan, Tatiana, and Dr. Karen. It is inspiring to work with people who are excited about what they do each day. They encourage us to contribute our own talents too, and I’m looking forward to doing more of that. This week, I am going to lead a health education session about healthy stress management for young mothers while other volunteers teach their children about oral health. One of the common threads I’ve noticed in Dr. Karen’s recommendations for patients is that they manage their stress better in order to alleviate different pains that they present at the clinic, and I’m eager to have a part in educating about this. Coping mechanisms are especially interesting to me because I am a psychology major, so I am thrilled to be able to research and present on healthy ways of managing stress.

One of the most fascinating parts of this trip has been seeing volunteers coming through with so many different styles of serving. The phrase “learning service” from the Kellogg orientation video has been resonating with me during my time here, and it is interesting to see how many people come here without an openness to learn. I’ve realized that the individuals who are most open to learning are the ones who perform the most effective service in terms of connecting with the patients, understanding what the clinic staff needs us to do, and maintaining a positive attitude. In contrast, those without an open mind often clash with the pura vida style of working and can create discord in the flow of clinic operations. At first I was not enthused about having a new group of volunteers coming every week, but seeing how a person’s initial mindset or attitude affects their experience by the end of the week has actually turned out to be a great learning experience. This trip has definitely affected the way I approach service, and I am excited to carry what I’ve learned to future experiences.

This trip has been too incredible for words, and I am grateful for every moment of it. Life is so large in Costa Rica, and I feel blessed to spend eight weeks in such a wonderful country learning so much and experiencing so many things for the first time. This experience is unforgettable, and I will continue to see traces of it in the new ways that I think, interact with others, and approach my career. 

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