Peru Intern Journal: Savannah King

Savannah King joined MEDLIFE at UGA’s leadership team as Membership Coordinator shortly after participating in a Mobile Clinic in Lima, Peru last year; she then later became the Brigades Chair in April of 2012. Currently, she is one of four summer interns in Lima. When asked to summarize her experience thus far, this is what she had to say:77-1

I’ve been here for four weeks and one day and words aren’t adequate for describing the experience, but here’s my attempt:

Upon our arrival, brigades started immediately, and so did the challenges. This is when you find out that seven years of studying Spanish in school only allows you to translate approximately 64% of what a patient says to you when you speak one-on-one, and only 23% of what is said when there’s 15 people crowding in a circle around you all begging to know what number they are in line to see the doctor. Luckily, I happen to be pretty adept at hand signals and non-verbal communication, which makes up for where my Spanish fails.

Despite the struggles, these are the times when you find out you’re capable of things you never even pictured yourself attempting.77-2The best way to describe the intern experience is “on-the-job-training.” Our overarching responsibility is to constantly be aware of what needs to be done, to step in and do it, and then to check again for what more we can do.

At clinics, we help students get where they need to be, explain their tasks, teach them the phrases they need to know at each station, keep the peace when someone’s lunch goes missing, etc.

We direct the setting up of the tent (much more difficult than it looks), assist with patient intake and facilitate the77-3 process of sending patients in one-at-a-time to see the doctors, dentist, and gynecologist. Then, after up to 8 hours of clinic, we come home, might grab a shower, then head to the students’ hotel to help out with their evening events.

We try to give students a complete cultural experience during their stay here, and even after my fourth visit, I can still find something new to consider buying at the Inca Market (our Thursday evening outing). It’s a shame I’m still too cheap to lay down 13 USD for a beautiful leather purse (even when I forgot to bring a purse with me to Peru and have been severely missing this vital female accessory for quite some time). 77-4

But above all else, I’m here because I believe in Medicine, Education and Development as being three of the most important aspects of helping people — whether I’m in a hospital in the states or an urban slum in a developing or underdeveloped country. Specifically, I love studying nutrition and diving into how food and lifestyle affect our mental and physical health. I want to teach people the simple choices they can make as preventative measures against a lifetime of medical problems.

I love the idea of working hands-on with patients, talking with them and hearing directly from them about what they need and what will make a difference in their lives. I have the opportunity to witness that happening here, and for the remainder of my life I will strive to never stop listening to the people I’m aiming to serve.





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.