Gurleen Samra, FIMRC Global Health Alumna from UC Irvine, reflects on her involvement with Chaptership and her school's service trip to Project Alajuelita
I got involved in FIMRC's UCI Chapter my second year of college with the intention of gaining community service experience, but throughout the years, this organization gave me so much more. I got to serve underprivileged children, use my knowledge of basketball to help children with special needs play sports in a self-esteem building environment, provide health education for preventative care in local communities, and experience medicine across the globe.
I not only gained community service experience but also a whole new perspective of the world around me. I got to see how much health education is needed in nearby societies, education that I mostly take for granted. This chaptership has created a new passion for me to give back to my community around me in any possible way I can.
On Group Travel
I have always had the passion of serving across the globe and see myself volunteering worldwide when I have a future career as a Physician's Assistant as well. I decided to travel via FIMRC in order to fuel the passion I had to serve across borders. I believe that if you take the trip alone you will only see one perspective of your experience, whereas when you are going in a group you are sharing individual experiences. Additionally the benefits of traveling in a group is that you know your Spanish speaking friends will help you understand things better and help you in getting around places with ease.
Toward the end of the trip I could see that my group realized how much of a difference they made by the knowledge they provided to individuals. Something like basic health education may seem small to us but that is very big to the people living there. That is something all of us understood better when we came back.
On Project Alajuelita
The best part about my experience in Costa Rica was the fact that all of the members got to experience a new station at the clinic each day. Additionally we learned a lot that we could bring back and incorporate in our way of providing health education. Another aspect my fellow members and I enjoyed was the Dance Therapy and soup kitchen. Lastly, the best part of Project Alajuelita was the welcoming nature of everyone there. Dayan made all of the volunteers feel at home, and even the patients cooperated with us despite not all of us being fluent in Spanish. The setup that a person speaking any language can volunteer with FIMRC was very assuring.
The FIMRC Experience
The welcoming nature of the people working at the clinics would definitely be something that brings me back to travel with FIMRC. Also I like the fact that FIMRC has preset clinics and volunteers come to serve there instead of coming, setting up their own clinic, and leaving. This way patients can come back to the clinic for follow-up visits because the clinic isn't going anywhere. I know many organizations that go on brigades for a week and come back, and do not have any means of following up with the patients they prescribed medication to.