Students enrolled in Onondaga Community College‘s Nursing program spent the holiday season giving to others. They traveled to Guatemala where they participated in service-learning over the semester break. “It was quite the adventure,” said Nursing major Troy Adams. “We were shocked by the poverty there but the people were so kind and appreciative.”
Adam and nine classmates brought everything from valuable medical supplies, to everyday items like toothbrushes, band-aids and clothes, along with a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Once they landed in Guatemala the first few days were spent building wood burning stoves in homes. Stoves there are used for cooking and are burning all day long. The existing stoves were deteriorating and didn’t vent to the outside, leaving walls covered in dangerous creosote and families with significant health problems.
Students built new stoves in six homes, then left them to cure while they presented local citizens with health clinics and information sessions. “In rural Guatemala there isn’t a lot of access,” said student Sarah Kimmelman. “There aren’t a lot of supplies and there’s not a lot of funding.”
Students hosted free clinics where they checked things like blood pressure and blood glucose levels. They taught residents how to make shampoo and a substance similar to Vick’s Vapo Rub. Students worked with children and focused on teeth brushing, hand washing, burn prevention and general hygiene.
The service-learning trip was an eye-opening experience for students. “Those people literally didn’t have a floor under their feet and they were so happy to see us and so appreciative,” said student Theresa Ott. “You really learn how to not take for granted things we have because people who have so much less are so much more content in life.”
The students efforts were noticed in Washington, D.C. They were awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award at the “Silver Level.” This is the premier volunteer awards program, encouraging citizens to live a life of service through presidential gratitude and national recognition.
The trip was made possible in large part thanks to the support of National Grid, M&T Bank and the entire campus community.