4th Year International Elective – Pop Wuj, Guatamala
"I had an incredible experience at the Pop Wuj Spanish School for one month (during Block 10). All of the teachers, students, and staff have a special place in my heart. Some of the teachers would hold a weekly lesson to teach us more about the history of Guatemala as well as current events. These teachers would also plan excursions to teach us more about the beautiful country of Guatemala."
"Pop Wuj attracts students from different parts of the United States and the world. About half of the people were fellow medical students and the other half were nurses, people working in corporate business, college students majoring in pre-med, human rights, environmental science, etc., and even a fisherman. Pop Wuj is unique as a Spanish School because all of their profits go towards several local projects to improve the lives of people living in Xela and the surrounding rural communities. I was primarily involved in the Pop Wuj clinic, but I also worked with the Safe Stove Project and the Nutrition Program.
"If you love service-learning, you will thrive in this program. Each project gives you an opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of others while also giving you an opportunity to learn more about the patients you serve and—of course—to practice your Spanish! Xela is a great place to learn Spanish, and the clinic is a fantastic opportunity to practice medical Spanish, specifically. During your one-on-one sessions, your teacher tailors the curriculum to your needs, including medical Spanish vocabulary and phrases. They pair advanced Spanish and beginner Spanish students together in teams in the clinic so that patient care is never compromised and you are able to practice your Spanish as much as you can. I came into Pop Wuj speaking only a few words of Spanish, and after four weeks, I have made so much progress.
"For me specifically in the emergency room, I feel ready to ask important, time-sensitive questions, do a physical exam with Spanish instruction, and even do a little bit of patient education and instruction on how to take prescribed medications. I want to continue to progress in Spanish here in the United States, both through seeing patients in the emergency room and continuing to work with my Pop Wuj teacher via online classes on Skype (which Pop Wuj offers in addition to their medical Spanish immersion program). Pop Wuj Spanish School has established a strong base for me to better serve my Spanish-speaking patients in the emergency room."
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