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Study Abroad Profile: Sarah Perry

Program: Ohio State Global Health Initiative GroupSarah Perry
Location: Guatemala
Rank: Sophomore
Major: Public Affairs, pre-medical

"I took this trip through the Ohio State's Global Health Initiative Group and had the chance to team up with Peacework and multiple other local groups to do volunteer work. I was there for 2 weeks in rural and indigenous rural areas in Guatemala close to Lake Atitlán. We toured local health care facilities, volunteered in a hospital, worked to install fences, irrigation systems, and cleared land for organic school gardens, volunteered with a special needs school, worked to install water filtration systems as well as stoves that produced less smoke to help avoid respiratory diseases that result from smoke inhalation during cooking. We had the chance to take a tour of the Mayan landscape and ruins and see all the history, we even got to travel in the canoes they carve! We also enjoyed the opportunity to visit a Mayan curendero (shaman) and witness a ceremony for a local Mayan deity!

My experience in Guatemala changed the way that I perceive the world. I fell in love with the people and the rich culture and want to return one day. Our group, affectionately called the GuateFam, grew so close and made memories that we will never forget. We went on a mountainous run for gym class with children from a special needs school and I will never forget when 8 year old Febe, my little partner with downs syndrome refused to run back and I spent the next grueling mile carrying her back while she kissed my cheek. We had the chance to visit other schools as well, and helped them to make a secure school garden where they would be able to learn about agriculture!

During the hours that we weren't volunteering we got to explore the city. I played street soccer with the boys in the town center and scored! We traveled in tiny tok toks, standing in the back of pick-up trucks and in chicken buses! We also took part in Mayan ceremonies, and met some amazing women that are widowed. They cooked dinner for us and we ate off banana leaves as they shared their stories. The landscape was beautiful, but what I will remember most is the amazing people with such rich culture and stories that completely changed the way I viewed foreign aid, and the world."

For more information on Global Health Initiative, read the whole story here.