The Juniors will be checking in from time-to-time with written pieces about where they have been and what they have been doing on their off-terms away from Hanover.
Hola from Guatemala!
My name is Sarah Tabeek (but most people call me Beeko). I am a Psychology Major and Anthropology of Global Health Minor from Quincy, Massachusetts. This winter for my off-term I am experiencing all that Central America has to offer with my two friends Maria and Carolyn.
For seven weeks, my friends and I have been living in a house in Santa Cruz, La Laguna, Guatemala on Lake Atitlan working at the ‘Puesto de Salud’—the town’s medical clinic which serves over 20,000 local people. Santa Cruz is not only one of seven main towns surrounding Lake Atitlan, but it is by far marked by the steepest terrain—we have to walk up hundreds of inclined stairs to reach the center of town each day! We work at the clinic five days a week as Primary Care Clinical Assistants. Time is split between treating patients, cultivating patient care skills, and learning about community health and Medical Spanish. During the clinic’s operating hours, we collaborate with the attending nurses and physicians to make diagnoses and deliver culturally appropriate treatments. Since a majority of the surrounding community speaks ‘Kaqchickel’, the local language, the nurses serve as language mediators, translating from Kaqchickel to Spanish and vice versa; thus, we are able to gather patient history, interpret symptoms, and present respective cases to Dr. Sinkinson, the head doctor. In the afternoon, Dr. Sinkinson gives us lessons in Medical Spanish; my Spanish was INCREDIBLY rusty at first since I predominantly studied Latin in high school, but my two friends are gratefully very good at Spanish and have helped me immensely! Once we get home for the afternoon, I am able to train and get a workout in. Since I don’t have the luxury of a gym with free-weights and a treadmill to run Fartlek #2, I have to get creative with jumping rope, running stairs, and performing body weight exercises (shout-out to Pattie’s favorite exercise: Burpees!!!)
On the weekends, we are lucky enough to be able to explore and travel! On our first weekend, we visited the small historic city of Antigua, Guatemala, where we toured the architecture, hiked and roasted marshmallows on top of the active Pacaya Volcano, and toured the Filadelfia Coffee Plantation (this was my favorite part since I’m a huge fan of coffee—my teammates can attest to the absolutely essential pregame Starbucks run). The next weekend, we hiked up Volcan San Pedro, a volcano on the shores of Lake Atitlan that reveals a stunningly rewarding view of the entire lake from up top. We also explored Monterrico, a beach town with volcanic sand on the pacific coast of Guatemala where we released baby sea turtles into the ocean. For two weeks after our stay at Lake Atitlan, we plan on learning to surf in El Salvador, go ‘volcano boarding’ in Nicaragua, and go zip-lining and cliff-jumping in Costa Rica before heading home!
I have had such and incredible and invaluable experience here in Guatemala & Central America. I have not only learned so much from a medical and global health perspective, but have also had the pleasure of working with such wonderful, intelligent, and thoughtful people who have shown me the world. Although I can’t say that I terribly miss the negative degree winter weather, I truly miss the woods and am anxious to get after it with the Dartmouth Field Hockey family this spring!
Up Up Big Green,