Sabado, Mayo 17, 2014

Community Exposure: Before and After

Experience by itself does not necessarily promote learning. But experience can provide the “raw material for learning”. Community exposure is an important activity every medical student of Ateneo de Zamboanga University School of Medicine should embrace as we grow up in our medical calling.  Doing community exposure, a medical student will be able to find oneself and will be expose to the lifestyles of other people with different culture and variation which tends to make us more aware of the needs of the less fortunate. Accordingly, people inhibit different parts of the world and lead different types of lives. Their lifestyles change across the various regions on Earth and so do their mentalities. The resources available in their regions, the plant and animal life that are native to their area have a direct impact of their way of living. People all over the world have been divided into two distinct groups by this marked line of difference between an urban and a rural life. The questions imposed in our minds before we left in our city life were “How are we going to survive for 30 days?”, “How can we adapt to these changes?” and “Will it bring an impact to our lives?”

Prior to going to our assigned communities, our emotions fluctuated between excitement and curiosity, to uncertainty, fear, apprehension and trepidation. “I was excited, but also pretty overwhelmed,” said one. Another described the experience as “a rollercoaster of emotions”. This plethora of emotions was fuelled by fear of the unfamiliar, our own concerns about community health care outside of academic institutions, and feedback from past students. Uppermost in our minds was the feeling of uncertainty about what was expected from us as freshmen medical students.

It was early afternoon when we arrived in the site. I was very excited as I stepped down the bus with all the things needed for the exposure. I saw the welcoming faces of the elders and the heart-warming smiles of the children as we approached. Their expressions seemed to be welcoming a long-time member of a community who just came back, but the truth is it was our first time there. The experience was very heart-warming and an unforgettable one. With this exposure that I joined for the first time, I fully understand why it was called a “community exposure”.  It was to throw and absorb ourselves into the situation of others. Because of this, I was exposed to the other possible lives other than the ones I know. Before they were just discussed in our lectures, but now I could somehow envision them. I have witnessed them through all my senses.

After the exposure, I realized that I am far too lucky to have a family like mine and to have the things I need and I want. The lifestyle there was very simple; having food on the table to eat was enough. I realized that I should be thankful of what I have instead of being fretful and unsatisfied. I was lucky that I could go to the best school and develop my skills up to the best of my abilities because there are teenagers like who wanted to do so but they are hindered by their situation. I also realized that these chances that I have should not be taken for granted, I should strive and work so that the efforts of my parents would not be wasted at all. Most of all, I realized that happiness does not count on material things alone, it is the time you spent and share with the one you love and with God.  Even if I realize all these things, it would be wasted if I will not apply it in my life. These things are futile if it will not be applied and work for. When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace. Happiness is not really on material things but it is more on love and support from people especially from the family. Simply having a complete family can be the greatest happiness that we can achieve. Being contented is better than being rich, simply because contentment means happiness and rich means more material things.

Written by:
Lourdes Ursula O. De Villa
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Community Life: The Beginning

                  One month away from the comfort of my family, friends and the city was hard yet fulfilling and life-changing. This was the time when I realize the importance of my family in my everyday life which I only took for granted when I was with them. Also, the time when I realize I had everything I could ever ask for. These realizations struck me when I arrived and lived for a month in my assigned community – Barangay Goaw, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte. Then, I began to question myself: “Is my decision correct?”

Honestly speaking, living in a community was not new to me, but living in it for a MONTH? Wow. I’m glad I survived. The one-month exposure in Barangay Goaw, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte was like a survival of the fittest for me. We had to do things on our own. Here are some of my experiences:

1.      True friendship blossoms despite differences. Differences in personality in a group are very common, even my group is not an exemption to this. It was not easy to live 24/7 under the same roof with seven unique people of different personalities. There are some members who are out-spoken and loud. Some are quiet. Some have strong personalities. And, I have a “go-with-the-flow”/”happy-go-lucky” personality. My patience was put to test. I had to adjust several times. But one thing I like in my group, we do not fight or have arguments. Why? Respect, Cooperation, Understanding, Trust, Friendship, Ability to Give of Yourself and ONE FAITH are the answers. Friendship is an odd, yet beautiful thing. I am so lucky to have such a diverse group of true friends.
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Team Ginlaw Goaw with One of the seven Barangay Kagawads (person in brown shirt)

2.      We had to walk 200 meters to use the toilet. Funny as it may be, but this is true. The house, where we were staying, does have a C.R., but for taking a bath purpose only. We had to walk down to the center of the barangay to use the toilet of the day care center. How about using the toilet at night? We still walk down with our buddy and flashlights and sticks since there were no light posts and to avoid the dogs lurking everywhere.
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Walking back to our house

3.      Laundry days without a washing machine. For me, laundry days were challenging days. Honestly speaking, I am a person who does his laundry with the help of a washing machine. But during the community exposure, I learned to do my laundry with my own two hands. Truly, it was life-changing and refreshing.
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Laundry days

4.      No other mode of transportation, except the ”Habal-Habal” or Walk. Going to the town, 8 km away from our assigned barangay, for grocery and personal enjoyment will take you a 20-30 minutes up-and-down ride in a habal-habal in a broad daylight. Even sick people are brought to the health center using habal-habal. Are there jeepneys? Yes, there are. But it will take you an hour or two or three for you to be able to ride one.  
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Ebony riding a habal-habal
5.      Meeting every night and a Bible Study. We always conduct meeting every night even though it is already late to discuss things. This conducting of every night meeting is very new to me. Aside from all these, one thing that makes my group different from other groups is that we are all Christians. The Lord is the Foundation of our group. It is because of God that we are here. He has a purpose ready for us and it is Him who made and will make everything possible for us. For nothing is impossible for Him.
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Bible Study and Prayer and Testimony with the members of the barangay

            “Is my decision correct?” My answer would be YES. In this exposure I have realized a lot of things and found myself changing. Experiencing a community life is an experience I can be proud of for the rest of my life. It did not only let me realize what I already have but also taught me how blessed I already am. I have everything I can wish for. Our journey as medical students for God and for Barangay Goaw has yet to start. This is only the beginning.

 Written by: Charlie Hernandez
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Bright Sun