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.