With spring break officially under way and excitement setting in, we are making final preparations for our trip. Last minute acquisitions have been made and the more forward thinking students might even be packed. We will be leaving Vanderbilt at 11:30 am on Sunday to catch our 1:00 pm flight; we will have a brief layover in Miami before continuing on to Guatemala City, where we will be working for the first half of the week.
Learning how to say "Thank you" and "excuse me" in the same class period as "infant incubator" and "electro-surgical unit."
We have spent this semester practicing our BME skills on various pieces of equipment and researching specific machines that we know we will be working on. In addition, we have been studying basic and engineering-relevant Spanish. All our work throughout the semester is about to culminate in an adventure down to one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Clean water? Air conditioning and heat? Toilet paper? Who needs it? Well, we are bringing our own toilet paper, but besides that, we are roughing it. All for the sake of Guatemalan citizens under the care of the National Hospital of Guatemala, the hospitals Hermano Pedro and San Juan de Dios.
We look forward to a wonderful cultural experience and local food, as well as an opportunity to hike a local volcano and see the surrounding country side. Our primary focus and overriding motivation, however, is the service learning aspect of our trip. In addition to repairing medical equipment, we will be spending time with young children in the Shalom Surgical Center and giving presentations on various subjects in our individual areas of expertise.