Volunteer Experiences of Past Alumni

“VAW has shown me the real reward of giving. Which is the satisfaction of knowing that I have made a difference in someone's life in the most important aspect of life, their health. The experience of not only volunteering in the medical field but to help out in a third world country where it is needed most is an amazing feeling. I feel blessed for being a part of this even more so because my mother is from Guatemala. I was able to reach out to my own ethnicity and help out. This experience has opened my eyes and made my passion for medicine even greater then it already is. I have fulfilled part of my dream which is giving to those who have nothing. The golden rule of life is to give out of heart and expect nothing in return and I did just that and although there was no reward in hand that is because the reward came to the heart and that is why this has become an unforgettable experience that I will tell my children and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren and so forth. Thank you VAW!!!”

—Aimee Corleto, Sacramento State University

“Going to Guatemala was definitely a wonderful learning experience for me! I had the opportunity to be completely immersed in the culture by living with our host family, traveling, and solely conversing in Spanish. I also got to befriend the friendly locals while gaining medical experience at the clinics. Overall, this trip really opened my eyes to how others have such a different way of living, and how we should continue striving toward a sustainable future!”

—Sumeet Aujla, UC Berkeley

“VAW began as a small group of individuals with big dreams, and I am so proud to have had the opportunity to contribute towards making those dreams a reality. In the past two years, VAW has distributed well-needed medication to multiple communities, developed health workshops, and pioneered research in water quality and nutrition. In addition, we have forged friendships and shared cultures in the beautiful nation of Guatemala. We will continue to learn vital lessons from the community and from the environment, and in the process, we will become better people. It truly warms the heart to know that our group has made a difference in the world, and I look forward to seeing VAW grow bigger and better in the future!”

—Ivy Huang, UC Berkeley

“Volunteers Around the World has expanded my horizons and given me the opportunity to fall even more in love with three things that I already adore: medicine, nutrition, and language. I know for a fact that my undergraduate experience would not have been even comparable had I not joined VAW my freshman year!”

—Angie Mar, UC Berkeley rising 3rd year

“This trip was spectacular all around! You may hear stories or browse through pictures, but that does not do any justice as to what it is like in Guatemala. To actually experience the culture and lifestyle is one thing I will never forget. Working with the doctors and helping underprivileged patients has allowed me to live up one of my favorite quotes, "give more, expect less." I am extremely thankful for this opportunity because it not only has made me become more appreciative, but it has also given me the chance to step out of my comfort zone.
Thank you VAW for every second I spent in Guatemala.”

—Mary Ann Ratuita, Sacramento State University

“Community service has been, for many years, a vital part in my life and VAW gave me an opportunity to expand my interest in helping others beyond the borders of the United States. It was such an amazing experience working with the people of Guatemala. The trip also gave me an opportunity to experience a different culture by living with a local family who made me feel part of the family while sharing lasting memories that I will treasure forever. I fell in love with the genuineness of the people in Guatemala who are so grateful for what they have, and made us feel welcome. This trip has solidified my perspective in regards to the meaning of giving unconditionally to those less fortunate than us, especially in third world countries that need such services. I brought back with me many lessons from the people in Guatemala, future colleagues, and Mark who made this trip possible for all of us. I hope that I contributed a small part to the mission of VAW in Guatemala and look forward to my return next year. Thank you everyone that was there for this amazing experience and for the opportunity to learn from each and every one of you.”

—Marie Marroquin, University of Southern California

“Providing medical aid in Guatemala this summer through Volunteers Around the World was such an incredible experience. I feel so lucky that I had this opportunity to make even the slightest impact in the lives of those living in rural Guatemala, though the people of Guatemala certainly taught me and impacted my life far more. In the end, what made this experience so special were the people: our host mother who so graciously welcomed us into her home; the doctors we worked with who shared their knowledge and experience with us; the patients, whose gratitude transcended any language barrier; and my fellow volunteers who made our trip crazy fun. Though this was the first year that USC has worked with VAW, it will definitely not be the last. Thank you, VAW, for an amazing two weeks in Guatemala and memories that will last a lifetime.”

—Kasey Cheng, University of Southern California

“Volunteers Around the World gave me an opportunity to see Guatemala from a health-centered perspective. By setting up mobile clinics in village schools and churches, I was able to be truly immersed in an environment focused primarily on the health care and well-being of local Guatemalans who otherwise have very limited access to medicines and interaction with doctors. Being able to assist those in need who share a different cultural background and interacting with the locals showed me how I may understand and interact with other Spanish-speakers in a health setting back in the US. In addition to the hands-on experience in handling medicines, shadowing doctors and taking vitals in a triage station, VAW also allowed me to go into local elementary schools to educate children on nutrition and hygiene, the fundamentals for preventative medicine. Finally, the immersion in local Guatemalan culture, food and language with other UC Berkeley students was an unforgettable experience that I will remember for many years to come.”

—Joshua Chiu, UC Berkeley

“It was truly a life changing experience. Being able to be so hands on in an area who needs as much help as it can get was very moving. It also reassured me that I am going into the right profession and helping people who are seeking medical attention is as rewarding as I thought it would be. Even though there were only two (including myself) from MSU the staff of VAW and our host family made us feel comfortable in our new environment. I'm more than glad I went this past summer and would recommend it to anyone looking into the medical field.”

—Alexandria McGraw, Michigan State University

“My experiences volunteering with Volunteers Around the World has been rewarding in multiple levels.I have learned the difficulties resource-poor communities must face in order to overcome limitations in health. I was challenged to see life beyond myself and my own perspective within the mobile clinics and the home stay. Understanding must come before making a change, and the opportunity to volunteer with Volunteers Around the World has moved me forward in this path. Finally, and most importantly, the greatest reward was seeing the happiness and gratitude expressed by the communities visited by VAW. Health is wealth, and the work of this organization strives to bring this wealth to communities, around the world, one project at a time.”

—Amélie Nkodo, Johns Hopkins University

“My summer trip to Guatemala was the most rewarding and humbling experience I have encountered. It has taught me to appreciate life through the eyes of the people of Guatemala. VAW and the people of Guatemala have given me the opportunity to understand the disparities in healthcare and how a small group of people can make all the difference.
I would like to take this opportunity to say Thank You to VAW and to Guatemala for showing me what it really means to provide healthcare. I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with a great group of people who are trying to make a difference in the world. 'Trips like this aren't vacations...they are so much more. These experiences show you what's possible and challenge you to examine the paths you'll take in the future. —Blake Mycoskie

—Kristy Le - Sacramento State University

“Guatemala will always be a cherished memory. You had to have been there, pictures do not do justice for all the experiences we shared with Volunteers Around the World this summer. We were able to set up clinics, shadow doctors and help underprivileged people in the most rural cities in Guatemala. However, we did not just visit; we were immersed into the culture living with our gracious host families. I thank VAW for being able to have the opportunity to help those in need whom have the smallest amount of resources available to them and making a difference.
Guatemala was truly a rewarding and humbling experience which showed me how to be more appreciative and was overall a life changing opportunity.
I will never forget our loving host families, the smiles on the faces of people whom we helped, and the fun times we shared as a group. Thank you VAW for a wonderful two weeks in Guatemala!”

—Veronica Lawrence, Sacramento State University

“It is undoubtedly a privilege to be able to be part of VAW. We have the honor of serving the people of Guatemala, who are in great need of our help and make it known how much they appreciate our work. This is not only an eye-opening experience, but one that you will never forget. You have the opportunity to meet wonderful people, and community leaders who are extremely and whole-heartedly dedicated to helping the members of their community. You get to learn about their culture, their life-styles, all while you take part in providing free medical care. You will leave wishing to have been able to do more. Everyday there is a sense of both pride in the work you contribute, but also a sense of inadequacy, for all those we could not provide care for. It is this very sense of insufficiency that keeps us going every morning to get up and do our best to help those we can. If you have the means and opportunity to join, don't think twice, I am sure you will enjoy the experience, and above all, you will be motivated to continue in this path of serving others that brings a sense of fulfillment and appreciation of the people and the world around us. ”

—Janette Magallanes, NCPT

 
Volunteers Around the World   :   San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala