Looking for things to do with all your newly found free time? MEDLIFE is here to share our suggestions for things to do while social distancing. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite videos, articles, and activities so you can comply with public health guidelines, learn something new, and stay connected with the MEDLIFE Movement!


What is social distancing? 

Social distancing is a set of practices and strategies for preventing the spread of illnesses like COVID-19. It involves minimizing social contact in order to delay transmission and reduce the severity of an outbreak. This helps avoid a sudden spike in the number of cases of an illness, which could potentially overwhelm health systems. We can all help #FlattenTheCurve by practicing social distancing!

Social distancing can be tough, but it can also be a great opportunity to learn something new and push your creative limits! Here are some suggestions of things to do while social distancing to help you learn and thrive!


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To read

1. Article – Lima’s ‘Wall of Shame’ and the Art of Building Barriers

If you’ve been on a MEDLIFE Reality Tour in Lima, you’ve probably seen Lima’s ‘Wall of Shame.’ This article explores how this wall perpetuates class inequality in Lima and considers the social divisions created by walls around the world.

Check it out to learn about the cultural and historical factors that have shaped the city of Lima! (Be sure to keep an eye out for the photo of one of our community organizers featured in this piece, Ricardo Ccasani)


2. Study – Nutritional Failure in Ecuador: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions

At MEDLIFE, we believe that having an understanding of the underlying causes of poverty will help you get more out of your Service Learning Trip. In many of the communities we work with, inadequate nutrition is an underlying cause of ongoing health issues like anemia. 

This study from the World Bank provides an overview of research on nutrition in Ecuador and makes suggestions for how this issue can be addressed in the future. It’s very useful reading for anyone joining a Service Learning Trip in Ecuador in the future!


3. Literature Review – Poor People’s Experiences of Health Services in Tanzania

If you’re going to Tanzania on a Service Learning Trip or if you’re simply interested in global health, reading this literature review is worth your time. It explores the barriers that prevent members of low-income communities from accessing healthcare services, including cost and distance. 

This background provides context for MEDLIFE’s Mobile Clinics in Tanzania, which bring free healthcare services directly to rural families. To all of the MEDLIFErs who’ve volunteered in Tanzania – thank you for helping us make an impact!


4. Book – Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World-and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

For those interested in development and global health, this book is a must-read! Drawing on examples from his career as an international medical professional, Hans Rosling encourages us to rethink our perspectives, analyze our instincts, and embrace a worldview informed by data. The book argues that this way of thinking will equip us to face the real challenges facing humanity – a skill we need now more than ever!


Things to do while social distancingTo watch

5. Special Edition MED Talk: Updates on Union Santa Fe 

Walls don’t have to be used to divide – they can also bring communities together! In this Special Edition MED Talk, MEDLIFE’s founder Dr. Nick Ellis is joined by members of the MED International team to delve into the details of our Walls That Unify Project. 

Watch this video to learn about the role of Land Title in poverty reduction and how MEDLIFE is working to make a difference in the community of Union Santa Fe.


6. TED Talk: The danger of a single story 

In this TED Talk, Chimamanda Adichie recounts her experience as a young girl growing up in Nigeria reading stories written by British people. As a storyteller herself, she warns us of the dangers of only being exposed to a single story about a group of people. This way of thinking can lead to harmful stereotypes and generalizations. 

At MEDLIFE, we believe that Service Learning Trips help us to open our minds by exposing us to different stories. As Chimamanda reminds us, another way to do this is by reading stories from diverse authors!


7. MEDLIFE’s Grow the Movement on campus playlist

The day is coming when university campuses will be full of life once again! In the meantime, you can get ready to grow the MEDLIFE Movement on campus by brushing up on your community organizing skills. By planning and strategizing in advance, you’re sure to create an even bigger impact when all of this is over!

In this video series, we hear from experienced Chapter leaders and cover topics including starting a Chapter, building an E-Board, and planning a Service Learning Trip. For bonus points, we encourage you to host a virtual ‘Watch Party’ with your fellow Chapter members so you can learn simultaneously!


8. TED Talk: Can home cooking change the world? 

In this TED Talk, world-renowned Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio tells the story of how food united an entire country. Gaston explains the influence of Peru’s multiculturalism on its cuisine, and how this helped Peru gain international recognition for its gastronomy. Check it out to enhance your understanding of Peru’s culinary culture and social diversity! (Disclaimer: It may make you HUNGRY to go on a Service Learning Trip!)


To do

Cooking - Things to do during social distancing9. Try a new recipe

We might be staying at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get a taste for far-flung destinations! Trying the local cuisine is a highlight of Service Learning Trips for many of our volunteers. With an abundance of online recipes and video tutorials, now a fantastic time to work on your skills in the kitchen! Once this is over, you can even impress your fellow Chapter members with an international dinner party. 

For a simple Peruvian classic, try making Lomo Saltado – a tasty beef stir fry (there’s a vegan version as well!).


10. Learn a new language

During Service Learning Trips, volunteers often tell us that they wish they knew more of the local language! Even knowing the basics can help you connect with local community members on a deeper level.

With so many online tools available, it’s a great time to get started on language learning for future Service Learning Trips! Check out websites like Duolingo for an interactive way to learn, and visit iTalki to find other language learners to practice with via Skype. You can also watch movies in your target language and listen to podcasts for language learners (Coffee Break Spanish is one of our favorites!)


11. Stay involved with your MEDLIFE Chapter!

From virtual meetings to online fundraising, there’s a multitude of ways to stay connected with your MEDLIFE Chapter. In times like these, we need each other’s support more than ever! Check out this blog post to learn about how your MEDLIFE Chapter can continue thriving during social distancing. 

How are you keeping yourself busy and during social distancing? Leave us a comment on our Instagram to let us know! We’d love to hear from you.


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.