Even a deadly volcano
eruption didn’t stop faculty, staff and students from Southeast Community
College from their service trip in June. While around 200 people remained missing
and around 100 people declared dead, local residents still needed basic health care
assistance, perhaps more than ever.
This is the fourth service
trip for Health Services dean, Jill Sand, and the third to Guatemala. After
learning about the volcano and its effect on the community before her departure,
she was anxious, but knew the need for help was still just as important.
“We had a heightened
awareness of the disaster, and some of the student’s family members were
concerned, but we were all safe,” she said. “The students worked hard, and the people
were so thankful and gracious to receive care even if it was simple.”
Fifteen students from
different health science programs traveled to Antigua to offer assistance and
supplies to the community. Programs represented were Associate Degree Nursing, Practical
Nursing, Respiratory Care, Surgical Technology, Physical Therapist Assistant, and
Sand says the community has a
wide variety of health issues, and most people cannot afford medical care.
Common problems include chronic pain, sinus infections, back and neck pain, and
dry coughs. Students were able to take what they are learning in their programs
and apply directly to the people of Antigua.
“I was surprised how much
from school I was able to use after figuring out what they needed,” said
Marianne Wegulo, a second-year student in SCC’s Associate Degree Nursing
Wegulo had never traveled out
of the United States and thought this trip would be a good opportunity to
broaden her horizons and use some of her Spanish skills.
“It was a bittersweet
experience because it was wonderful to give them what they needed, but at the
same time we could only give them a limited supply,” she said.
Wegulo and other students had
hygiene bags they would give people. She learned that simple things like nail
clippers were in high demand so they had to decide who needed those items the
most. This trip further cemented her decision to work in the field of nursing.
“I’ve always loved making
people’s lives easier and with nursing I’m able to do it one-on-one,” she said.
“I love getting to know people.”
What stood out to Sand and
Wegulo was the tight-knit community and how it differs from the United States
for many reasons.
“With the volcano eruptions,
we saw people who were affected by that, and I think what really stands out is
their sense of community,” Sand reflected. “They do life together. They don’t
have the services and technology we have. Interdependence is that much greater.
They have to know neighbors there.”
Wegulo would like to eventually
get her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and work in the mental
health field after she graduates from SCC next spring. One thing she knows for
sure, she will definitely take another service trip in the future.
“I think everyone should take
a trip like this; you’ll learn a lot about yourself,” she said. “It opens your
eyes to a different culture, and you are helping people, and that is important.
It can be expensive, but at the end of the day, it’s more than worth it. It’s a
The group also was able to
explore some regional attractions and find out how local fare such as coffee
and macadamia nuts are grown and harvested. They also were able to see an inactive
volcano and view the unique architecture, including Catholic churches.
“This trip is one of the best
things for me every year and puts things in perspective,” Sand commented. “It’s
good for my soul and good to have positive student interaction. It’s fun to see
Guatemala through the students’ eyes, see the history and experience the
For more on SCC’s Global
Education program, visit our webpage at https://www.southeast.edu/globaleducation/
or contact our Global Education Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org