By Dr. Beth C. Senne-Duff, association professor, Nutrition graduate program director, and Didactic program director
I traveled with students on several trips to Peru and Mexico. These trips included study trips and service trips. Traveling with many people and interacting with new people every day presents constant opportunities for growth. I like the opportunity to get out of myself and to get over myself.
Accommodations are simpler; food is an adventure; transportation is slower and more varied; and communication is complicated by language differences and is personal – not mediated by digital media. I become the other and must depend on others to help me.
At the beginning, students hesitate for fear of making a mistake. I nudge them forward reminding them of what they know. We spend long hours counseling patients, giving classes and workshops. We adapt to working cross culturally and across disciplines. We must drop assumptions about the “correct” way to do something. We adapt to current circumstances and make it work. We become more flexible. Students realize there really is more than one right way to do something. They learn to work in chaotic environments. Students become more confident.
Each person chooses to come on a study trip or medical mission trip for different reasons. For me it is part of living the UIW Mission. We are using our knowledge and skills creatively to minister to the sick and the poor. We are opening our eyes, hearts and minds to develop a deeper understanding of social justice. Through interacting with diverse people, we develop mutual understanding and self-understanding. We choose to work toward the common good. Finally, these experiences help us to become concerned and enlightened global citizens.