Last summer, Lovett Junior Sarah Corning sought out a trip that included medical studies while also tying in her Spanish speaking skills. She found that Global Public Service Academies’ two-week medical brigade to Guatemala was the perfect fit.
Before embarking, Sarah worked as a translator at the Good Samaritan Health Center in Atlanta to accustom herself with medical vocabulary, and to fine tune her Spanish.
Once in Guatemala, a typical day included teaching in the classrooms and volunteering in the local clinics.
While teaching, Sarah focused her lessons on personal hygiene, specifically about the spread of germs through hands-on activities. In her demonstration, one student whose hands had been covered in glitter shook hands with other students and spread the glitter to each person. The kids enjoyed this active way of learning and were eager to practice washing their hands, she said.
“When someone gets you out of your regular class lecture, you get excited,” she joked. “They were attentive, learned quickly, and clearly retained the information we were teaching them.”
In the clinics, Sarah recorded vital-signs and also had the opportunity to shadow some of the doctors. Afternoons consisted of individual Spanish lessons to help strengthen the student volunteers’ speaking skills.
Sarah said her most meaningful experience while in Guatemala was her interaction with the mothers and children in post-natal care. “Reaching the communities who would not even come into the clinic and making sure they were well nourished and their baby’s growth was on track was probably our most important work,” she said.
Back in the United States, Sarah continues her work with GPSA and plans to return to Guatemala during the summer to implement another public health project.
She is working closely with Dr. Robert A. Malkin of Duke University to help design a dental health program. Her biggest goal is to teach a program that is sustainable and will continue to make an impact after she leaves.
Dr. Malkin said he believes Sarah will have no problem meeting that goal. “She should be able to provide the community with insight on the connection between food choices and dental health,” he said.
In addition to being a world-traveler and volunteer, Sarah is a tutor at La Amistad, and a member of both the varsity debate team and varsity basketball team at Lovett. Sarah also fills leadership roles in the World Cultures Club and the Teens Against Prejudice Organization.
Sarah will start the college application process this August, and sees herself majoring in Biomedical Engineering or Economics in hopes of pursuing a career in public health care.
This article was written by Amanda Gibson, a student at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School.