March 18, 2013
Marissa Bowman , U-Voice Student
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Today we visited Escuela Primera, a school about a 20 minute drive from the Hospital de las Culturas in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico.
We traveled to the remote school with our student sponsor Carlos, two high school student volunteers, Skylar and Olivia, and two high school students from Monterrey, Mexico who served as our translators, Andres and Ricardo.
Operation Smile offers high school students the unique opportunity to participate on international medical missions. The primary role of a student volunteer is to educate on several teaching modules designed to inform local populations of basic health care that will improve quality of life.
Skylar and Olivia have the important task of educating as many patients and parents as they can on burn care, dental hygiene, nutrition, hand washing and oral rehydration therapy.
At the hospital, they take every opportunity to give educational talks to small groups of patients, using visual aids, posters and presentations. When they visit schools, they have the perfect opportunity to give these valuable lessons in a classroom setting.
Andres and Ricardo attend an American school (The American School Foundation of Monterrey) in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Their school sends a student volunteer group on the medical mission in San Cristobal every year. They proved to be phenomenal translators for the presentations.
When we arrived at Escuela Primera, we were greeted by the principal Rolando Paniagua. He was very welcoming to us and gave us a personal tour of the three classrooms in the school – one for first and second graders, one for third and fourth, and one for fifth and sixth.
There were only about twenty students in each classroom. Each class we walked into, the students all stood and greeted us with a synchronized chorus of “Buenos dias” (Good morning).
They were enthralled with the presentations that were given. When it was announced that everyone would receive a toothbrush, there was an audible gasp of their excitement!
Witnessing these young students' welcoming manner, eagerness to learn, and appreciation of things we may take for granted really put things into perspective.
I have great respect for all of them.
Tags: From the Field, Our Blog, Student Stories, Latin America & Carribean, Mexico