Two weeks in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina with about 20 other business and nursing students exploring the healthcare industry can change a person. Between the rich meals, intensive site visits, interesting guest lectures, fascinating museum visits, and other cultural activities, I felt I gained so much valuable experience that I will carry with me throughout my college career and beyond.
When I was asked what my favorite part of the trip was, I hesitated. We accomplished so much in such a short time both in educational and cultural capacities. Yet, throughout it all, I believe talking with locals in the country was the most valuable feature of this Plus3 program. I was able to gain personal insights into the lives of many different Argentines just by trying to communicate between language barriers. For example, professors and doctors of the area came to guest lecture several times while at Austral, and their personal views of the healthcare industry, as well as Argentina in general, provided a perspective that was actually unique to much of the research I conducted beforehand. Moreover, I found that talking to nurses and physicians within the hospitals and community centers was one of my favorite parts because they had such interesting stories to share about their work and their passion for it. We were fortunate enough to have a mixer with several students at Austral and being able to ask them about their daily life was an experience I will never forget and I hope to keep in touch with many of them. Even talking with everyday people, whether it be at restaurants, cafes, markets, or shops, made my trip here in Argentina so much more meaningful as I not only could practice my Spanish speaking but could make connections all over the world.
Another aspect of the program that I appreciated was the complex and diverse systems involved in the healthcare industry specifically in Argentina. Coming here, I knew very little even about our domestic healthcare system, so being able to develop a deep understanding of how the industry is structured in Argentina will help in my future studies. Although I knew I was interested in working in the healthcare industry one day, I believe this experience has reaffirmed these notions. Between private hospitals like Austral, public hospitals like Hospital Fernandez, pharmaceutical companies like Andrómaco, or community centers like in Puesto Sanitario Delta, I was exposed to very unique operations that inspired me to understand more. Although I specifically studied pharmaceuticals over the course of the trip, I learned so much about how each sector operates and works together to provide care for Argentine people in the Buenos Aires area. I realize that we were not able to see the structure of the whole country, but even the small part we witnessed gave me a unique perspective, especially compared to what I knew about the United States’ system.
I would also like to highlight our day volunteering at the community center in Palermo. We spent some time playing with the children of the area, many of which suffer from malnutrition, and I was so inspired by this visit because of the hope I could see in the eyes of not only the kids, but their mothers as well who just want the best for their child despite their situation. The other unique highlight was our visit to a hospice center in Pilar. Not only was there an emotional impact, but a greater appreciation for the personal care given before the end of life that allows a peaceful transition, as they were rooted in core values. The affection and strong religious implications of the country was yet another takeaway for me as this kind of passion is rare in the States.
As I sit on the plane heading home from this beautiful country, I am filled with such great gratitude. To Brad Miner and Dr. Grant Martsolf, I cannot thank you both enough for leading us on this journey and teaching us so much. The CAPA and Austral staff, in addition to every brilliant tour guide, I am so blessed to have met and talked with as they sparked my interests in a positive way. Moreover, I felt I was able to grow so much in such a short amount of time working together with all my amazing peers who carried a passion for learning and experiencing memories that will unite us for a long time to come. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who supported me in my decision to pursue this program, especially Mrs. Linda Haller, the James B. Tafel Endowed Scholarship Fund, and my family, who generously aided in funding my experience. Without this support, I would not be who I am today.
¡Muchas gracias por todos! ¡Hasta luego!