**Fair warning- I wrote this post on 10/05/2017 and forgot to publish it. So please keep in mind that this blog post was written prior to Professor Muench and Professor Kennison’s visit**
This blog post is a response to my classmate Rachel Katz blog post “Our “Good” Deed“. In her blog post she discusses “medical voluntourism” and our classes reaction to the idea of individuals going to third world countries and medically assisting natives without any prior medical experience with the intention of wanting to put it on a resume or college application. One of the parts of Rachel’s blog post was her line “In class we used words like “them”, that how weird it is that “they” would do something so wild without thinking of the repercussions”. Well I am here to put myself in a vulnerable position and speak of my experience as a previous member of this “they” and “them”.
In class I brought up that the Geneseo Study Abroad Office offers a program where you can travel to Ecuador, Bolivia or Peru and assist with midwives without any prior training. The link to this program opportunity is here. Well, the reason I knew about this program was because first semester freshman year I attended the study abroad fair and became interested in this program. A little over a year ago I was one of the people our class and the author, Noelle Sullivan, of “The Trouble with Medical Voluntourism” expressed concern about.
Since freshman year of high school I have always felt so much pressure to stand out and set myself apart from college applicants. Freshman year of high school I was concerned about standing out on my college application, now, 5 years later as a sophomore in college I am concerned about standing out among medical school applicants. This program seemed like a great opportunity to help me stand out. Noelle Sullivan, the author of “The Trouble with Medical Voluntourism”, said “Many organizations’ websites prioritize prospective volunteers’ interests rather than the interests of those they purportedly serve.” When I was considering this program I must shamefully admit that I did not once consider my lack of medical experience or the native people I would be serving. For me this trip interested me due to my own interests and unfortunately not the interests of the people I would be serving. I committed what my classmate Rachel described as “doing something wild without thinking of the repercussions”. I did not end up applying for the program or pursing it much further than researching it online. However, I think it’s very importance to realize how relevant the medical voluntourism article is. The students this article discussed are not few and far between. I am sure that I was not one of the only Geneseo students who became interested in the program and I also would not be surprised if other Geneseo students have done the program.
The reason I wanted to make this blog post is to shed light on the importance of educating someone rather than belittling or judging them about a misconception of belief they may have. In class when Frank and Professor McCoy did the mock conversation I sat there wishing I had a similar experience. Frank did a great job at addressing how Professor McCoy’s interests were valid but he challenged her to question her medical experience and to think about the people she would be serving. If that were a real conversation I believe Professor McCoy would have walked away not feeling belittled but rather feeling more educated and possibly even happy that Frank expressed his concerns. It’s human nature to not want to feel belittled or embarrassed and I think it happens all too often when people are trying to express concern over someone else’s beliefs or opinions. “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.