Ecuador: Ama La Vida (Ecuador: Love Life)

At the beginning of August I moved to Quito, Ecuador to begin my fellowship with Timmy Global Health. Before I talk about my fellowship, here is some background information on the organization I am working with and how I became their fellow.

Ecuador: Ama La Vida (Ecuador: Love Life)

About the organization: Timmy Global Health is a non-profit organization that expands access to healthcare and empowers volunteers to confront today’s most pressing global health challenges. Medical service teams travel to support 7 project sites in 5 countries by providing financial, medical, and human resources to the communities within each site. If you would like to know more about the organization visit www.timmyglobalhealth.org

How I became involved: My first year at Davidson I joined the college’s chapter of Timmy Global Health and it quickly became an integral part of my collegiate experience. Throughout my four years at Davidson I became more involved and dedicated to the organization’s mission to expand access to healthcare, including being the Davidson chapter President my senior year. Over winter break my last year I traveled to Quito, Ecuador on our chapter’s annual medical brigade. During the trip I was able to learn about TimmyCare (an electronic medical record system created specifically for Timmy Global Health) through using it in clinics and talking to the director of TimmyCare, Muz Ahmed. I left Ecuador knowing I wanted to go back to help expand TimmyCare; I just did not know how it could happen.

Ecuador: Ama La Vida (Ecuador: Love Life)

How I became the TimmyCare Fellow: When I was looking for jobs senior year all I could think about doing was returning to Ecuador to work with Timmy Global Health to improve TimmyCare. However, I would have had to go as a volunteer and did not have the means to do so for a long period of time. The new “Build Your Own” fellowship through the Davidson Impact Fellows program provided me the perfect opportunity to pursue my dream job for the year after graduation. By receiving this fellowship through Davidson I was awarded the opportunity to give back to an organization that is important to me, to develop my skills as a computer programmer, to learn about another culture through living in Ecuador, and so much more.

What I do: As the TimmyCare Fellow I work with the director of TimmyCare, Muz Ahmed, to help update and improve the system based on its functionality during clinics and feedback from the clinic volunteers. Most days involve researching ways to improve the system as well as changing the code to update TimmyCare. My background in computer science is a basic foundation through two courses I took at Davidson. Thus, a majority of my time is learning how to make the changes in the system – either through research or with the guidance of Muz.

Ecuador: Ama La Vida (Ecuador: Love Life)

Although my fellowship focuses on my work with TimmyCare, it also entails getting to know a new environment. The move from a small town in North Carolina to a big city in Ecuador has been the hardest obstacle for me to overcome so far in the fellowship. For example, before I moved I had never taken any form of public transportation. Now I use the public buses, the trolley, or taxi services almost daily. I still get lost on occasion, but I have learned that being lost is not always a bad thing. The other day I got to explore a part of the city I would have never seen otherwise because I went the wrong way to a co-worker’s house. Another big adjustment is the language barrier. I am conversational in Spanish, but did not realize how nervous I get when I speak it until I arrived here and in most situations, speaking Spanish is my only option. I have become more comfortable in Spanish conversations and have improved since I have been here. I still have a lot to learn during my time here – both through my work with TimmyCare and culturally. I had a slow start adjusting to living in Quito, but as I get accustomed to living here I am looking forward to the rest of my time as the TimmyCare Fellow.

What I Wish I Had Learned in College

By Melodie Mendez ‘13

It has been one month since I’ve started my job as a Public Policy fellow at FHMM in Merida, Yucatan. I’ve enjoyed almost the entire experience but I would be amiss to say that had it not been for extreme patience (which I didn’t always exemplify) and great feats of flexibility (which I did not always exercise), this experience could have been on the brink of horrifying.

No.  I’m not exaggerating.

I don’t want to go into detail on the mishaps, but let’s just say that culture was lost in translation. Besides, the mishaps are not important. What is important is that I never really learned to fully function in a world outside the comforts of Davidson. Davidson did not teach me how to live a hard life.

I lived a luxurious life at Davidson. I had my own room with bathrooms that our dorm keeper took care of, meals cooked for me right when I wanted them, CVS near by, deadlines/ tasks/ expectations all clearly laid out for me right with the handout of a syllabus. Sure, I pulled all-nighters every month; sure, I didn’t always get the grades I wanted; sure, I was a part of way too many clubs… but these were all choices. Davidson afforded me choices and for the large part if I was unhappy about something I could make an effort to change it.

Life, on the other hand, just says “no” to most of your efforts and hands you a bag of ambiguity and other obstacles for you to delve through.

I wish Davidson had taught me how to simply “deal with it.” It sounds so much easier when reading and writing the words.

What I Wish I Had Learned in College

But it’s just harder in the real world (and, believe me, as I write this I’m realizing how much of a comfy life I’ve lived). Anywho, that’s just the professional setting, where I can’t just lounge in the Union pull an all-nighter when I want to and submit my work, but instead I am forced to sit on a wooden chair crank out some work for an undisclosed time with undisclosed specifications. It often times feel like I have no professional power and being President of XYZ club bears no weight on anything except… wait no, absolutely nothing.

Then there is my life outside of the office. I recently had a conversation with one of my housemates (also a Davidson 2013 grad) about our social lives at Davidson. It was a very structured social life. You knew where you where going to eat and with whom. You knew what times you had this and that meeting. You knew that you would probably goof around for X number of hours and then rush to complete an assigned reading. The weekend came and you partied the night/ morning away, slept in, went to Commons, went to the library.

Rinse.

Repeat.

It was relatively planned and known.

I have started a new life outside of Davidson and outside of the US and, for starters, I don’t even know what I like to do [on a budget]? I wish Davidson had afforded me the time to develop a hobby. For the past four years my interests consisted of sleeping on command during any available time, joking around with my friends in the dorms or in the Union, and writing lists upon lists upon lists of things I needed to get done.  But what do I like to do? Or maybe a more appropriate question is, who would I like to be?

At Davidson, I was a workaholic and I loved it and, for the most part, was relatively good at it. Some might ask, “well what did you do before Davidson?” Well, I was at a competitive boarding school and before that I was a Prep 9 student that conducted college prepatory classes starting at age 13. Complimented by my strict parents who wanted to be nothing other than a Doctor or lawyer, I had no life outside of school. I didn’t mind that at all to be honest. One thing I know for certain, I love to learn.

Nowadays, I guess I’m just learning how to be.

 

css.php