June 12, 2012I wanted to wait to write a reflection until I told everyone close to me about my trip. Explaining my experience to others firsthand seems to help me reflect in a more meaningful way.
I guess I will start off my saying what I expected of the trip going into it. I expected it to be an amazing learning experience, both culturally and in terms of education. I expected the trip to be a lot of fun, slightly stressful, and to make me feel guilty and sad all at the same time. I expected to grow as an individual and as a problem-solver and analytic thinker. Sure, I learned about z-scores, weight/height, weight/age ratios and what not in class and I’m thankful for that, but I think that my Global Nutrition class discussions helped a lot in terms of fleshing out the details of a problem (be it nutrition-related or not) and allowed me to come in with the maturity to handle thinking about a multi-faceted problem. Without a doubt the trip lived up to and exceeded my expectations.
One moment I’d like to share only lasted a second or two, but it probably had the most effect on me. Earlier in the day at CREN my group listened to case studies of certain children and one of the girls, Vitoria, cried during the whole case study. I couldn’t help but feel bad for her and her situation that was explained by Paula. However, later on that day I was in the lobby when her mother came to pick her up. As her mother took her into her arms her cries became the biggest smile. It felt good seeing that and it made me really appreciate her mother’s sacrifice to leave her child for ten hours per day, five days a week at CREN in order to get healthier. This moment also made me feel hopeful for her future. It served as a bright moment as she was able to smile about a childhood that to most would be considered pretty crappy. I think all involved at CREN should be very proud of what they do and I hope these types of feel-good moments help get them through their difficult jobs.
I will end by saying that the class and the trip truly embody what I feel a college experience is about: an opportunity to bridge knowledge from research and the classroom and apply it to physical and social problems. I learned more in this method of immersive learning than I bet I could say from doing any other study abroad program.
Thanks for reading,