Study Abroad Spotlight

Timmy Global Health: Medical Service Trip to Ecuador

Timmy Global Health is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding access to healthcare and addressing global healthcare challenges. As members of the ISU chapter, Honors students have the opportunity to enroll in GH 301: Global Healthcare Challenges to learn about about healthcare disparities in developing countries and participate in a medical service trip to Ecuador. 

 

Alternative Winter Break 2019: Turks and Caicos

Blood, sweat, and tears alongside compassion and hard work were all put into volunteering at a children’s home and a school in Turks and Caicos Islands over Winter Break. Eight Honors College students, including myself, spent a week on the island Providenciales (Provo to the locals) with two Honors graduates: Katie Lugar (Honors College Assistant Director for Student Programming and Leadership) and Brianne Huxford (Center for Community Engagement Graduate Assistant). The first Honors College Alternative Break trip certainly set a high standard for future trips. This group accomplished several important tasks that will significantly impact the lives of hundreds of local children with little to no prior knowledge or skill. 

Alternative Winter Break in Turks and CaicosThe Provo Children’s Home currently houses nine children, although only seven were there at the time. We organized an impressive collection of books, hung art on the walls, cleared a garden, cleaned a storage shed and replaced desperately needed ceiling fans. While we worked, the kids asked us all sorts of questions and we watched them play games and music on the piano. They all broke out in laughter after we became frightened when a frog jumped out of a tray as we were cleaning the shed. For those of us organizing books, I think we will always associate “A Hard Day’s Night” with this experience because it was probably played more than 50 times! To tend to the children’s needs, there are several caretakers that live in the house. These women are the backbone of the facility. They ensure that each child has enough to eat, keeps their room clean, arrives to school on time, and takes them to all their activities. The children attended soccer and swimming practice while we were there, and the caretakers made sure that they all had clean uniforms and goggles. 

We also worked at the Wesley Methodist School that educated primary and secondary students (the equivalent to our K-12 schools). After Hurricane Irma came through the Caribbean in 2017, many of the schools were damaged and it was financially impossible to renovate them. Wesley is in a middle to upper class neighborhood, but it was still a shock to find that they didn’t have the resources to fix the tile in two classrooms. Our group was met by a school full of cheerful smiles and hope. Our task, to retile two upstairs classrooms, was something none of us had done before. After pulling up the old thin set with a demolition hammer, chiseling the edges of extra grout, laying a new thin set and placing the tiles, it was evident that we were nowhere close to professionals. It also didn’t help that the new tiles were a different color and size than the old ones. We weren’t given spacers, so the gaps were slightly uneven, but when we installed the new grout and cleaned the tiles, it looked phenomenal. The next day, the principal insisted we return to the school for the students to tell us thank you. When we arrived, the whole school was present, and we spent an hour listening to children of all ages sing a myriad of songs, my favorites being “Thanks” and “I am a Promise.” The sewing teacher, whose room was one of the two retiled, was extremely grateful that she was finally able to move back into her classroom after a year of not being able to teach inside. She presented us with a card that read “Some people give because they think they have to- for them, it’s just the proper thing to do. But when you give, I always know it comes right from your heart- I’m thankful for your thoughtfulness and you.” To me, this last experience was the most meaningful. We were able to witness the results of our hard work and directly see how it will impact so many lives. It was a bittersweet ending to our week of service. The saying, “beautiful by nature” does not do this island, nor the locals, justice. I believe that I can say for all of us that we are grateful to have been given the opportunity to go on this trip and spread a little bit of happiness, help those in need, laugh with the children and even make them smile. 

-Haylee Sigmon, Operations & Supply Chain Management major