This year, we again had the opportunity to partner with the University of Texas Medical Branch, in which we provide a six-week clinical rotation site for their physical therapy (PT) students, and their students get to experience, first hand, the joys and challenges of providing rehabilitation services in a developing nation.
During the six weeks, the students participated in a medical outreach in a local village, worked in our adult and pediatric therapy clinics at ASELSI, evaluated patients for our wheelchair giveaway, performed house visits, observed a surgery at a local hospital and much more. Through these experiences the students gained valuable critical thinking skills, an appreciation for cultural differences, a greater understanding of Spanish and some K’iche phrases, and lasting experiences and friendships. The students described their time as a “great experience.” They loved being able to practice a variety of physical therapy skills, having the opportunity to work in and experience a different culture, seeing how people live and work, learning from and teaching our local workers, and learning about the medical system in Guatemala. They also enjoyed the variety of experiences they had living with local families, such as learning to cook local foods, singing local songs, and visiting local sites. Through it all, the students were changed, and the local people were as well, thanks to their open hearts and willingness to serve our workers, our patients, and our community.