My roughly two-months with Primeros Pasos has been an experience that surpassed all of my expectations. Between the work at Primeros Pasos and richness of Xela life, there is never a dull moment while volunteering. As a pre-medical student and Global Public Health major, I arrived excited to work as a Children’s Health Educator. Performing charlas (an educational talk) in two local schools provided me the opportunity to fine tune my Spanish as well as really engage with the local communities and the health problems they face. However, what I really enjoyed was the way no volunteer is pigeonholed into one role. Rather, every day is a new experience as you are constantly asked to do new things. For me, this led to days where I was helping manage and educate others on the clinic’s new electronic medical record system and others where I was a pharmacist during mobile clinics. These are just a few examples of the many ways Primeros Pasos integrates its volunteers, making you feel truly valued and involved.
Outside of the clinic, Xela and Guatemala as a whole has so much to offer. Within the city, I found an extremely friendly Guatemalan population and strong expatriate community. It is easy to make friends around the city, whether you are salsa dancing, singing karaoke or simply taking a stroll through Parque Central. Furthermore, outside the city, there are limitless opportunities for excursions. From hiking the nearby Santa Maria to travelling to beautiful Semuc Champey or Lake Atitlan, I was able to fill my free time in a variety of ways. I would like to thank the whole staff at Primeros Pasos, who welcomed me from the start, allowing me to grow as a public health student and have a summer I will not soon forget. ¡Que les vaya bien y hasta pronto!