Dominic Grisafe’s Intern Journal

I visited Peru two years ago with my MEDLIFE chapter, so I was ready for the extended plane flight from my home near Los Angeles, California to Lima.


 The MEDLIFE administrative assistant Amparo was waiting for me at the gate with a smile and a sign with my name on it. She was the first person I had met since returning to Peru, and she embodied the friendliness and positive attitude that I would soon learn was characteristic of everyone working at MEDLIFE. We hopped in a taxi and headed for my new home. Amparo was patient with my broken Spanish as she told me about the work she had been doing over the past year. The red, green, and yellow neon lights of the local businesses shone through the taxi windows while we drove through the lively streets of Lima. It finally set in that I would be living in Peru for the next few months.


I didn’t know what to expect when I visited the impoverished communities of Lima two summers ago. It was quite a cultural shock seeing the hillsides scattered with small homes for the first time. The people of Pamplona Alta waved Peruvian flags proudly over the walls of their brightly colored homes. Though many of them get by on very little, they seemed determined to stay positive, raising their children the best they could. Their strength and pride always stuck in my mind, and I knew I wanted to return to understand more about the people of Pamplona.

Working as an intern at MEDLIFE gives me the opportunity to reach towards several of my personal goals while exploring a new culture. I’m currently applying to medical school to build a career practicing abroad as a physician. MEDLIFE will allow me to work with like-minded volunteers and gain a better feel for clinical work in other countries. I’m also spending my down time studying Spanish. I’ve been surrounded by Mexican Spanish all my life while growing up in Southern California, but I’ve never spent a considerable amount of time immersed in the language. I’m hoping to return to the States one step closer to fluency. Most of all, spending the summer working with MEDLIFE is an adventure I’m sure I’ll remember for the rest of my life. So far I’ve only been here a few days. This week is the first time I’ll be heading back to the field, and I’m looking forward to seeing the progress that’s been made in Pamplona over the last two years. But for now I’m getting used to my new home in Lima. 

My second night here I went grocery shopping down the street with Hima and Dileep, two of my fellow MEDLIFE interns. Afterwards we got separated, and I enjoyed the exhilaration of being lost in the bustling streets of a foreign country. There’s nothing quite like traveling 4,000 miles away from home and being alone in a sea of pedestrians, whose language you barely speak, without knowing exactly how to get to your apartment. Thankfully a security guard directed me to a payphone and I was able to get directions from Tim, who ironically holds the position of MEDLIFE director. Now that I’ve learned my neighborhood better, I’m excited to see what thrills Peru holds for me next. I’m pleased to say that if the next two months are going to be anything like my first two days, then this summer will be one of the most memorable of my life.


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.