My name is Diana López, and I am a Senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill majoring in Biology, Hispanic Literature and Cultures and minoring in Neuroscience. I attended the first Hands on Peru Summer Session of 2017. I initially solely began working with the Hands to Care program and later took up working with the Hands to Teach program as well. As part of the Hands to Care program, I was given the opportunity to learn about a health care system very different from that of the United States as I rotated through Trujillo's hospitals. In the CESAPU clinic, I was able to educate individuals in underserved areas on matters of public health, basic sanitation, and on recognizing risk factors and symptoms of diseases common to their community, such as diabetes and anemia. I was also given the opportunity to take basic medical histories, to triage patients by taking their weight, height, blood pressure, etc., and to shadow numerous doctors, all of which provided me extremely valuable hands-on health care experience as a pre-medical student. As a member of the Hands to Teach program, I assisted in teaching English to Peruvian children from the preschool to the university level, and I tutored several children in the afternoons. One of the most impactful experiences I had with this program was tutoring a young boy named Jean Paul in math. He ran into the clinic every day eager to learn with his composition book and broken pencil in hand. At first I did not know where to begin. He could not add simple numbers, but was expected to add double digits. I tried several methods including counting my fingers, but I quickly ran out of fingers. However, when I drew tallies for him to count, it clicked for him. His pride and excitement were inspiring. I had taught him a different approach that gave him confidence in his abilities. Through this program, I have seen the impact that encouraging words and an investment of time can have on children’s growth. I have learned about resourcefulness and empathy, and the experience has fed my desire to guide and mentor others toward a path of success.
Additionally, the HOP staff were extremely supportive, took great care in instructing us on how to properly carry out our tasks, and continue to guide us as we embark upon our professional careers even from a distance. They are hard-working individuals who have a great passion for what they do, and their approach to improving conditions in Peru by providing quality health care and a valuable education to its people is both empowering and effective. For all of these reasons, I recommend Hands on Peru to any undergraduate student who seeks a cultural experience and a chance to make a significant impact abroad by using his or her unique talents. The program will benefit from individuals who bring a diverse skill set, and will prove consequential for any student seeking to pursue teaching or a career in any health care field. I can guarantee that the experience will be incredibly rewarding, eye-opening, and distinctive for every volunteer.Diana López,