Expedition Nicaragua 2017

 This group of students and staff will spend the next few months abroad practicing their skills. | PC: Rick Young

This group of students and staff will spend the next few months abroad practicing their skills. | PC: Rick Young

On Jan. 11, 21 junior and senior standing students and five staff from the international rescue and relief program started Expedition Nicaragua 2017. For the next 90 days, they will experience an international opportunity through experiential learning with medical practice, firefighting, survival training and interaction with community development theories and agencies. They will learn by personal growth and insightful opportunities to solidify their life choices regarding profession and calling.

Their fourth week has started and these adventurers are now on a river trip for the next two weeks providing medical clinics in rural jungle villages. The following are reflections as posted in a Facebook group set up for friends and family. They are edited and published here with permission.

Week one reflections from Sara Baptist:

“New country, new me!”—We’ve all adopted Aaron Pineda’s catch phrase and have stuck rigorously to our morning workouts. Well, I’ve been leading one for the girls. The guys have been sticking more to an all-day-long workout approach. Insert eye roll here. However this is just a small part of the "new country, new me" mantra. We’re on a mission to improve our fitness, competence in practical skills, spiritual lives, leadership strengths, cultural awareness, dependence on technology, Spanish speaking and so much more.

Week two reflections from Coleman Baker:

We’ve been learning from Dr. Caldera about the diseases we'll encounter and the medications we'll use to treat them. We’ve also learned how to give physical exams and look at the human body to recognize red flags that indicate problems. That part has been my favorite so far. When we aren’t studying, many people just hang out, but some people are ridiculous and do push-ups till they can no longer feel their arms. I'm hesitant to join that group.

Week three reflections from Meredith Nichols:

 Jessica Santee, left, and Sara Baptist, right, exploring the town. | PC: Sara Baptist

Jessica Santee, left, and Sara Baptist, right, exploring the town. | PC: Sara Baptist

While this week was mainly focused on academics, one day outshines the rest. On Wednesday, the group was invited to visit the U.S. Embassy in Managua. We all felt extremely honored to be asked, but no one knew what an amazing day it would shape up to be. We slowly made our way through security and into the courtyard. Beautiful flowers everywhere, wicked tall palm trees—tall enough to make your neck hurt after looking at them for only a few seconds. I did my best to soak in the beauty while we made our way into the USAID building. There we met Ted Gehr, the Mission Director for USAID’s bilateral program in Nicaragua.

We sat down with him and learned more about what USAID does not only in Nicaragua, but all around the world. We also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua, Laura Franswroth Dogu! All of us were in awe. She opened our minds to countless career opportunities we had  never considered before. After speaking with the Ambassador, I have a whole new set of career goals for my life and I’ve never been more excited!

This past week I gained a lot of knowledge. However, a major lesson I learned this week wasn’t from Global Health class or even from our time at the embassy. It was something our instructor Aaron Kent said, “The respect you all showed to the Ambassador is the respect you should show everyone you meet. No one person is more important than another.” This is a lesson I’ll hold on to while we make our way down the Rio Coco River these next two weeks.


Emily Wood is a senior studying communication.