I came to Primeros Pasos as a first-year medical student with minimal medical knowledge, a passion to explore global health and a yearning to make something meaningful of my summer. I was apprehensive about working on the education program because I had little previous experience working with primary school students, and even less experience working in a developing country.
However, everything about Primeros Pasos made it easy to slip comfortably into the educator role – the staff is warm and welcoming, the “charlas” are well organized and the schools are extremely receptive to volunteers. At the schools, we learned about public health issues in rural Guatemala, the value of education and mentorship and the consequences of basic lack of access to water, food and healthcare.
On days when we weren’t at the schools, we were able to help out with health fairs and workshops, spend time with like-minded volunteers and work on implementing Pasos’s new EMR system. Through these experiences and relationships, I grew on both a personal and professional level. Thanks to my time at Pasos, I will return to school next month with a stronger understanding of how healthcare disparities are different in the US and abroad and how I can incorporate global health into my career as a future physician.