Sunday, June 8, 2014

Last words of reflection...

This trip has transformed me in more ways than I had ever thought possible, not only by improving my skills and knowledge as a health professional, but I have grown an incredible amount personally, socially, and spiritually. I learned just how important it is to practice awareness and mindfulness at all times. As a student, being present allows me to make the most out of my learning, and as a health professional, being present with my clients ensures that I am providing the best care possible. I am beyond grateful to have an instructor who cares so deeply for her students and for the health of underprivileged communities, so much so to make this experience possible, especially before our final year. A month in paradise has been an amazing opportunity to learn more about myself and the wonderful girls in the program, thank you so much Ada!....................Siarra

Overall, our time in San Pancho was hard work, but more importantly it was heartwarming, rewarding work. I can honestly say I have never felt so welcomed into a community and given as much trust as quickly and easily as the residents that we worked with gave to us. The language barrier taught me a lot about the importance of effective communication.  While clients were incredibly trusting, it was essential to remind myself that many of them had never experienced a dental hygiene treatment before. Explaining (through translation) each step of care along the way was appreciated by my clients, which you could see on their faces when they understood their condition and how to improve and maintain it in the future. I am so grateful for the residents of San Pancho that trusted us with their care, the connections that I made with my clients, and the invaluable clinical experience. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will always remember and treasure........  Heather

This opportunity has been one that I will remember for the rest of my life. Before I arrived in Mexico I imagined that the benefits would be an improvement in my clinical skills and a greater appreciation for what I have, but nothing I imagined compared to the experience I had. Imagining and experiencing are two completely different things when you are working with individuals and their emotions. Every day was a new experience that I couldn’t compare to anything I had encountered in my life. Seeing the difference we can make in people who don’t know that they have infection until we help understand what it is all about is unbelievable. Seeing children with completely blackened decayed teeth  was very sad and the realization that I had one shot to make a difference in their future and educate them was overwhelming. The people we worked with has such a positive impact on me, and the kindness of people who we saw every day in the stores and on the beach was so heartwarming.  Everyone was so helpful as a community. This trip has tested me in many ways that are difficult to put into words, but it has made me more grateful, compassionate, empathetic, confident, and sure of myself that this is what I want to do. I can’t thank Ada and all those involved enough for this experience, it really was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I can’t wait to go back to San Pancho one day........................Maria  

It has been a dream of mine to volunteer in another country for quite a few years now. I was very grateful and fortunate to be given the opportunity to utilize skills that I have acquired over the past year as a dental hygiene student at Camosun College. This field school has given me a whole new appreciation for this prosperous country that we are lucky enough to reside in. When basic needs is the focus, dental health is obviously not a priority, some of the local residence have never been to a dentist. This field school allowed us the opportunity to treat and educate people but hopefully really make an impact on how they view and care for their oral health. Over the past 4 weeks my skills as a clinician have greatly improved, as I have been able to experience more difficult cases that will help prepare me for my senior year at Camosun. …….................................................Rachelle

It's difficult to sum up how amazing of an experience this trip has been in just a few short sentences. It was a once in a life time opportunity and I am grateful that I had the chance to be a part of it and learn as much as I did. This trip has reminded me that we shouldn't take what we have in Canada for granted. We are beyond fortunate to be from a country that has dental care available for everyone because whether one has access to care or not can have a huge impact on ones overall health and well being. Through this trip I have been able to pinpoint the type of person I am and who I want to become as a dental hygienist and an individual. I have felt my skills really come together over this past month, I am confident and excited for new challenges in the many years of a dental hygienist to come!  I also want to thank Ada again for her amazing coaching and all the hard work she put in to making this trip a success! We couldn't have done it without you!!!......Dallas

I am so privileged to have been given the opportunity to travel to San Pancho and provide dental care for its citizens. From the moment we arrived, we were greeted with open arms. I will never forget the graciousness and kindness that was shown to us by the people of San Pancho. Whether it be the restaurant help on the beach or a patient in our chair, everyone was genuine and grateful. It was amazing to see how hard working and dedicated they are, something I see  less often in more industrial countries. I have learned such patience from this field school, the poise and composure that all our patients demonstrated, (even after being in a chair for 6 hours) is something I admire. I feel that I was able to share my knowledge of dental hygiene and in turn my  skills have improve greatly. This field school was very humbling, and I hope to one day go back to San Pancho, or a similar community, and help out those with less fortunate. I could not have done this trip without the wonderful team of women in the program and the dedicated teacher and mentor we are so fortunate to have guided us. We were all brought together here as a cohesive team, and for that I am grateful.

 Becoming immersed completely into a completely foreign culture can be daunting and intimidating, but the amazing community of San Pancho was so warm and inviting and made my transition from life in Canada easy. Although we were obvious foreigners and majority of us spoke little to no Spanish, we were still greeted by each and every person we passed by with a cheerful "Hola!" This caught on fast and became second nature to me that I have found myself carrying this habit back home to Vancouver, greeting strangers with a more subtle smile (although I have accidentally said "Hola!" a few times, but have gotten strange, blank stares in return. Hmmm. The experience I had in San Pancho unexpectedly helped me grow considerably as a person. While living in the small Mexican town, I tried my best to maintain a positive and 'go with the flow' attitude, an attitude which I found escaped me while I was living in Victoria. Since returning from the trip, I have done my best to continue on with the attitudes I formed while living in San Pancho.

The long but satisfying clinic days at both Entre Amigos and at the hospital granted me to improve my clinic skills immensely. The opportunity to work with the seniors at the community centre provided a mentorship-type arrangement. When we had to take what we've learned from our first year in the DH program and what we learned from our clinic sessions at Entre Amigos, it helped prepare us for our time in the hospital. I am so impressed with how all of us performed and how we were able to tackle very difficult cases on our own. All of our time spent working in our makeshift clinics has made me extremely grateful for our clinic setting back in Victoria, where everything is easy to access, ergonomically friendly, and, for the most part, remains on plan and schedule.

Before departing for Mexico, we were forewarned to not have any expectations about the trip. Prior to departure, I started thinking about what everything would be like once we arrived, but my four weeks in San Pancho was nothing like I would have expected. Every single aspect of my stay was amazing and couldn't have been better thanks to Ada, Glades, our translators, my classmates, and of course, a big thank you to the small community of San Pancho. Hasta luego...........................................................................Danika


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