Volunteer Review: David Cisi – Medicine in Argentina Alternative Spring Break Trip
It was January of 2017 when I had begun to think of what I was planning to do for spring break. Being in pre-med, I definitely wanted to go on a medical trip. I searched tons of sites and Projects Abroad seemed like it would be the best fit for me…and it was! Coming from Texas, I wanted to do an international trip for medicine and in the Alternative Spring Break Trips section, two popped out at me - Argentina and Ghana. I immediately chose Argentina!
The reason why I chose to go to Argentina was because I had never traveled to South America and knew that medicine and hospitals have a huge impact in developing countries. Also, I had taken a bit of Spanish in high school (which I had completely forgotten) and it was not scary (you can come without knowing Spanish). Now, I have traveled out of the United States before, but never on my own! I will admit I was a little nervous at first, but then I thought to myself that this would mean a big deal to me and the people I might be able to help over in Argentina. And so, I booked my tickets and flew!
Arriving in Argentina
When I arrived on Sunday afternoon in Cordoba, my Projects Abroad coordinator was right there waiting for me. So, we hopped into a car and he took me to my hosts’ home where she had a big smile and took me by the arms, giving me a huge hug! I can honestly say it felt like I was at home away from home. She guided me to my room where I was to meet my other roommates. They were a little jet-lagged, but excited to meet me! Our hosts served us wonderful food, both Argentinean and sometimes American food.
Our coordinator showed us around the neighborhood, where to buy food, the grocery store, the mall, and assured us it was 100% safe. The whole week there I never felt that I was in danger or threatened in any way. On Monday, our coordinator picked us up from our house and took us to the Projects Abroad office and was greeted by more staff. We did a country induction and a cultural workshop; from there we ate lunch in downtown at a local restaurant and toured the city. I was surprised to find out that Italian, German and French have an impact on the culture in Argentina due to its history; of which all have good food! After the tour, we were returned to our host home and ate delicious Argentinean food.
My medical placement in Cordoba
Tuesday was a big day, in the morning we were picked up by our coordinator and went to the Anatomy Museum of Cordoba. We toured the museum and were able to go down to the dissection labs and dissect multiple body parts and learned how to suture. After that, we went to our host home to eat lunch and immediately took off to the office to have a medical Spanish lesson. After the lesson, we went home and ate dinner and called it a night.
Wednesday and Friday mornings were the big days. We went to a pediatric hospital and got to observe how hospitals in South America handle its situations and procedures. We also got to observe surgery, which was very interesting. The doctor was so generous, after the surgery he gave us a tour of the hospital and we were shown a rare disease which he said, "you will most likely never see again". After the Wednesday hospital visit, we ate lunch and returned to the office to attend a diabetes workshop that we would take into action the following day.
On Thursday, we went to a village and set up our diabetes campaign at Dispensario Villa Cornu. We performed procedures to help identify if the patients had diabetes or not and it felt good to put what I’ve learned into action and helping people. After the campaign, we ate lunch and went to a medical outreach where we played with local kids and taught them about the importance of hygiene and its effects. After the outreach, we were treated to a tango social event to which Projects Abroad brought in two professionals and taught all the volunteers how to tango. It was super fun! Following the event, we went out to eat at a local restaurant.
After Friday’s hospital visit we ate lunch with our host and were given the time to explore the city more and when the night came we had a farewell dinner, sad saying goodbye, but there was delicious Argentinean food to be eaten! Saying goodbye on Saturday was very emotional. The next time I go, I’ll be sure to go for more than one week! Special thanks to Projects Abroad, my coordinator and my host for giving us a good time, learning a lot, and making it feel like home!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.