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Service Learning: An experience of a Lifetime

As my time abroad is coming to an end, I would like to share my experiences about service learning and all that it has entailed. Service learning is a way for students to be placed in a community, where they can observe and learn from professionals in their field of interest. It has allowed me to be actively engaged in a community that is much different than my own, and along the way I have built numerous relationships. It has, at times pushed me out of my comfort zone, but I have grown so much in this unique experience.

For the past four weeks I have been in a dental clinic here in Cusco Peru, and from day one I was welcomed with open arms. The clinic has two dentists, three assistants, and one woman who runs the front desk and answers the phone. I work at the clinic on average of about five hours a day and throughout my time I have seen a multitude of different procedures and met with dozens of patients. As far as the procedures go, it is much the same in the United States but one thing I have noticed is that it is not as sanitary as I am used to back home. For example, only the doctor wears glove’s when working with a patient, rather than both the doctor and the assistant. This was something that was different for me, but it was consistent every day for the past month.

Aside from some of the differences, one of my favorite parts is seeing how the dentists and their assistants interact with each and every person that walks through the door. The Peruvian culture is much more welcoming than I am used to back at home in the United States, but they are so genuine. They take time to talk with each person and ask how their families are doing and they hug and kiss everyone as if they are family. I love the personal connection that is displayed here each and every day and that is what has stuck out most to me at my time in the clinic.

I am so grateful for the people of Cusco, but especially those that I have had the privilege to work with and shadow for the past month. They truly showed me what a great work place looks like, and how to help one another along the way. They let me be a part of their family and they showed me how to care for one another. This experience is second to none that I have ever been a part of, and for that I am so thankful.


Mollie Maupin is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying Chemistry and Psychology. She will spend four weeks in Peru with the ISA Service Learning: Cusco program. While in Cusco she will shadow in a dental clinic, learning from numerous professionals.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

A Day in The Life

In Cusco, people tend to start their days a little later than I am used to back at home, at least in the professional world. In our home here, we wake up and have breakfast every morning at 7:15 am and then we all get ready to head out for the day. For me this means waiting around for an hour or so before heading to my dental clinic that opens at 9 am.

 

Photo of the dental clinic

When I first arrive at my clinic there tends to be a lot of waiting around. I help the assistants clean, by mopping all of the floors, sanitizing the rooms and making sure everything else is in order for the day ahead. This takes on average of about 30 to 40 minutes every morning and after we are done cleaning there is quite a bit of sitting and talking. The dentist usually shows up around 10:30 and most of the time the first patient follows around 11 am.

Every afternoon from 1 to 3 pm we have a break at the clinic. This is the time when I head home to eat lunch with my host family and other students, as well as end my day of service learning. Lunch consists of a bowl of soup, usually followed by rice, some form of potato and chicken. (It’s a good thing I like all of these foods because we tend to eat them every day).

After lunch we usually find ourselves at a coffee shop working on the week’s assignments, or just exploring around our town. There are so many things that are within walking distance, it makes it very easy to get around the main street. If we are feeling adventurous or just want to go a little further, we can head to the plaza for the afternoon. There you can find all kinds of amazing foods, as well as shopping for anything that you could imagine. It is only a taxi ride away and you can usually get them for about 5 or 6 soles, which is very inexpensive.

After this, we eat dinner with our host family around 7 pm. Usually at the dinner table with us is our father, mother, their son, and their niece that has been living with us for the past few weeks. It is a fun time to sit and talk about our days and communicate as best we can with them. They don’t speak any English, but they are very good about talking slowly and trying to explain things if we do not understand them the first time. This is definitely one of my favorite parts of the day. It is sometimes challenging to communicate and understand, but it is a time for learning and growing. I truly do enjoy these moments and I look forward to many more.


Mollie Maupin is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying Chemistry and Psychology. She will spend four weeks in Peru with the ISA Service Learning: Cusco program. While in Cusco she will shadow in a dental clinic, learning from numerous professionals.

 Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Rainbow Mountain

When traveling to Peru, everyone’s first thought is visiting Machu Picchu. Of course this is a site that can’t be missed, but growing quickly in popularity is Rainbow mountain which has very recently been discovered (or as the locals call it: la montaña de siete colores). It is in fact as the name implies a very large mountain and the colors vibrantly represent that of a rainbow. It was everything I thought it would be, and its vast beauty is one that I wish everyone would get to experience first-hand. I will admit that it is quite the hike getting to the top, but it is absolutely worth it in the end.

We booked our day trip through a tour company that picked us up at 5:15 am right in front of our hotel. We did our research and found that most tours tend to leave around 3:30 in order to be some of the first travelers atop the mountain, but our tour guide seemed to have a better plan (and frankly two more hours of sleep was much appreciated). We left Cusco and traveled two hours by bus until we came upon a small town, where we stopped to eat breakfast. After breakfast we got back on the bus and traveled one more hour to the base of rainbow mountain.

Stepping out of the bus we were met with a cold blast of air and wind all around us. Our guide informed us that as we hiked up the mountain in the sun we would be sweating and shedding layers, but at the top it would be very cold and we would need all of our cold weather items. (He was right). As we began the 5.5 kilometer hike, I quickly shed layers and found myself so out of breath. Side note: I’ve played sports for my entire life, including college soccer up until last fall. With this in mind, I thought I would be perfectly fine climbing the mountain that lie ahead of me. Yeah, I was very wrong about that. Two of my friends and I would walk about a total of 20 yards and have to stop to catch our breaths…at kilometer 3 we decided that we just couldn’t do it anymore. Fortunately, there are many locals that go up and down the mountain with their horses all day long just waiting for people like myself. I had every intention to make it to the top without any help, but the altitude got me. It really did.

When we finally reached our destination and stood atop this beautiful place, it was an amazing feeling. Not only taking in the beauty of the landscape, but looking around and seeing the number of travelers from all around the world. Speaking dozens of different languages, all there to witness the same thing. It’s an experience that I will never forget and an opportunity that I hope many others will get to endure as well.


Mollie Maupin is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying Chemistry and Psychology. She will spend four weeks in Peru with the ISA Service Learning: Cusco program. While in Cusco she will shadow in a dental clinic, learning from numerous professionals.

 Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Going Away for Awhile

At the Airport heading off to Peru with Maddi Cipolla.

Cusco, Peru. My home for the next four weeks.

As I am about to start an amazing journey in a beautiful country, I would like to share my experiences with you along the way. I will be participating in a service learning program in Cusco, Peru, which allows me to work in a dental clinic alongside numerous medical professionals. This is a way for me to actively be engaged in the community that I am placed in, while still gaining credit through my home university.

I will be staying with a host family along with 3 other American students from a number of universities here in the U.S. We had the option of a homestay (which is the choice that I selected) or you could choose to live on your own, but what’s the fun in that?! We will each have our own rooms, along with 3 meals per day, and laundry services weekly. I have been placed with the Baca family, who have been hosting international students since 2001. I can’t wait to finally meet this family and see how they go about life on a daily basis. I hope to be immersed in their everyday activities and gain a new and better understanding of their culture. I love that we are given the opportunity to stay with a Peruvian family. I think it gives students studying abroad a very unique experience, as you can connect with locals and learn from them firsthand.

Although I am pretty excited about my home stay and my host family, I am most excited for all of the places that I will get to visit throughout my month long stay in Peru. From the city markets, to beautiful restaurants, to the rainbow maintains, I am ready for it all. At the top of that list is Machu Picchu. Yes, I know this is a super basic answer when visiting Peru, but I have seen hundreds of pictures and read numerous blogs and within just a few short weeks it’s my turn to visit. My chance to take in its beauty and witness it in person.

In addition to the many places I will get to see, I am looking forward to the students I will meet along the way, as well as learning from dental and medical professionals in this country. I’m not quite sure what to expect, but I am eager to see where this experience leads me. I will keep you posted, and I hope you enjoy following along on my journey.

Thanks for reading!


Mollie Maupin is a sophomore at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying Chemistry and Psychology. She will spend four weeks in Peru with the ISA Service Learning: Cusco program. While in Cusco she will shadow in a dental clinic, learning from numerous professionals.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.