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Global Health Education Student Experiences Richard Smith

Drexel medical student Richard Smith in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala: Nutrition Clinic Selfie (local mother and child assisted by resident and 2 medical students)

Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, Pop Wuj Spanish School/Clinic
Spring 2018

"This past Spring 2018, I had the amazing opportunity to study in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala at the Pop Wuj Spanish School/Clinic. This was my very first study abroad experience, and I am happy I did it prior to concluding my medical school education.

"As a future orthopaedic surgery provider, it is important to me to learn medical Spanish to better serve my future Spanish-speaking patients. Thus, going into the course, I had 2 main goals in mind: (1) to learn to conduct patient history and physical examinations in Spanish; and (2) to gain proficiency in managing medical and preventative health needs in underserved populations. After completing the Pop Wuj program, I can confidently say that all my initials goals were met.

"Prior to registering for this course, I reached out to a previous Drexel participant who had glowing remarks about the program, all of which turned out to be true. The program is affordable, and the staff and medical faculty are very helpful and knowledgeable. Once I arrived in Quetzaltenango/Xela, I found the local people of Xela to be very friendly and receptive. Additionally, there are several places to eat and visit in and around Xela. I enjoyed my homestay with my Guatemalan family and definitely felt welcomed.

Drexel medical student Richard Smith in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Drexel medical student Richard Smith in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala: Hike to Volcan Tajumulco 2018

"The day-to-day program at the school is an appropriate mix of cultural competency classes and other informative workshops. The one-to-one Spanish tutoring is highly customizable to fit your need and level of Spanish proficiency. Medical students and other health professionals are able to participate in the school’s primary-care clinic and early-childhood nutrition clinic for Guatemalan mothers and their infants.

"Although the weekly schedule was packed with activities at the school, I still had time on the weekends to tour the city, explore local lakes, and hike nearby volcanoes. I survived my first hike up the highest mountain range in Central America! I also took salsa dancing lessons at a studio, toured a coffee farm and went zip-lining.

"Overall, I truly enjoyed my experience at Pop Wuj. I was humbled by the resilience of the local Guatemalans to live and work in their communities despite what others would say are “insurmountable obstacles.” These outstanding world citizens continue to make the best of what they have been given. Thank you for all the memories, Pop Wuj-Xela. I would highly recommend this program to medical students, undergraduate and graduate students or other professionals looking to improve their Spanish communication skills and gain a worthwhile travel experience.

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