From Nicaragua to Malawi
On Jan. 9, 14 International Rescue and Relief (IRR) students left with their two sponsors, Andrew and Kalie Saunders, for a three-month trip to Malawi, Africa. Before graduating IRR students take an overseas semester to practice their medical skills where they are most needed. For the past 10 years this educational tour has taken place in Nicaragua.
Rick Young, director of the IRR program, discussed the change in location, “Shortly upon returning from last years trip in April, 2018 Nicaragua fell into a major civil conflict between the President and citizens over tax increases and reduced retirement and social security plans.” According to the US State Department there have been an estimated 300 people killed, 2000 injured and over 1,000 people missing. Young continued, “Wanting to keep the IRR students safe and not put into a position of being used by either side of the civil conflict, I decided to not send out students to Nicaragua this semester.”
Malawi provides new cultural experiences for the IRR group. Over the span of the trip students will take six courses including Cultural Integration and Global Health in Development. All the classes are designed for the students to, “learn from local experts in tropical medicine, global health, disaster response and in building long lasting local relationships” according to Young. He also states, “We are looking to provide an atmosphere in which our students are able to learn from a new culture, broaden their world view and become more responsible members of the global community.”
When discussing the move to Malawi, Raquel Amich stated, “The change of location is actually pretty cool but at the same time nerve-wracking because we don’t really know what to expect. We no longer have the advice from previous groups because we may experience different things.” Nathaniel Brown went over what he expects to get out of this experience, “I hope to see many different things that pertain to the culture and how they live. I hope I get the chance to deliver some babies.”
This is not the first time IRR has had to change their three-month trip due to civil unrest. Before Nicaragua, IRR spent their overseas semester in Honduras. With Nicaragua still a country suggested not to travel to, IRR could be spending more time in Malawi in the future. To see what’s happening with IRR in Africa, check out Expedition Malawi 2019 on Facebook.
Maegan Luckiesh is a senior studying graphic design.