Spotlight - Haley English
Country of Study: Jamaica
What has been your most rewarding experience abroad so far?
My most rewarding experience of studying abroad was when one of the patient’s brought me a gift. During the four days we were seeing patients in the free health clinics I was talking to one patient about how much I loved her necklace. It had the Jamaican flag on it and it was just gorgeous. The woman asked me where I was staying and I told her. I wondered why she asked but I didn’t think too much about it. That night I told my professor how much I loved mission work, but I was bummed I couldn’t spend very much time with each patient like I normally do in the hospitals. I felt like I couldn’t make an impact on them like I usually try to do for hospitalized patients. Two days later, we were working at a totally different clinic and I see the woman with the necklace show up with a bag. She told me she couldn’t find another necklace like the one she had, but she did find a Jamaican wallet and she bought it for me. This gift meant so much to me I was practically in tears. The poverty there is unbelievable and the fact that I could actually make an impact on a patient in a 2 minute conversation, enough for her to buy me a gift, made me feel like the happiest person alive.
What has been your favorite part about your host culture?
My favorite part of the culture was the kindness of the people. They are so down to earth and happy even though they do not have much to live with. It makes me really appreciate what I have.
What was your favorite activity during your time abroad?
Every day at the clinics was amazing. I did not want to leave. I loved seeing the patients and being able to help them. I really wish I could do mission work for a living.
What was the most challenging part of your trip?
The most challenging part of the trip was when one of the patients asked me for a toothbrush and I couldn’t find one to give her. It was shocking to me that these resources are so limited. I brush my teeth at least three times a day and I felt so guilty at that moment when I didn’t have one to give her. We had plenty of medical equipment and medicine but no toothbrushes. Next time I go, I plan on buying a box of toothbrushes and distributing them like candy!
What do you miss the most now that you’ve returned to the US?
I miss the work. I love taking care of people here and there. I wish I could’ve spent more time there and helped patients with their healthcare further.
What is your best advice for students who participate in this project in the future?
Really focus on the culture and the way these people live. It will change your life. It will change the way you take care of people in America and it will really make you appreciate what you have.