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Exploring Thailand through Medicine

Exploring Thailand through Medicine
Caroline Hoffman

"Because of this experience, I know that my passion is in helping people. I can now confidently say I am going to school to become a nurse."

During her summer vacation, Grace Seaborn '18, spent two weeks around Udon Thani, Thailand, learning about community health and becoming certified in wilderness first aid. Grace was ecstatic for the opportunity because she has always been interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. Before Thailand, Grace spent a summer at a medical camp at the University of North Carolina and has received medical training at Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton, VA. Through Rustic Pathways, an international community service and education program, Grace was given the opportunity to learn about medicine and, for the first time, put it into practice.

At the beginning, Grace learned everything from checking high blood pressure to treating a patient struck by lightning. After becoming certified in wilderness first aid, her group was prepared to apply their knowledge and went to a village outside of Udon Thani. "By 5:30am, we were out of bed and on our way to help the villagers. We brought our own medical supplies and would set up outside a Buddhist temple." Under the supervision of nurses, Grace spent her mornings testing blood sugar, taking blood pressure, and determining the blood type of the villagers. Grace explained that she was shocked at the number of people who came to seek medical attention. "Even before we arrived, there were about 100 people waiting in line. That's when I realized how important a program like this is."

By the afternoon, the group was packed up and heading back to camp. However, their day was far from over. Grace explained that the afternoons were spent learning about Thailand. "We travelled to sacred monuments and temples, explored the countryside, studied traditional Eastern medical practices, and visited a local school."

When asking Grace about her favorite memory, she excitedly responded, "when the villagers invited us to eat lunch with them. Not only did we try incredible food, but we were able to learn so much about the village."

Grace explained that if she were given a chance like this again, she wouldn't hesitate to go back. She was grateful to be given this opportunity and is excited to see what new experiences come her way once she graduates.