Rachel is an emotional rock.
If she was homesick or personally struggled with anything we saw or did during these two weeks, it didn’t show.
An inspiring blend of logic and compassion, the Rossville, Kan. resident is a biology pre-medicine major who seems to love the stuff we are learning here as much as she enjoys the relaxed sight-seeing.
Rachel wasn’t too shy to use the high school Spanish she remembers during our time in El Limon. When I saw her with her family she had her dictionary at the ready but didn’t turn to it until she needed it. She woke up early enough to learn to make tortillas and helped chop vegetables and wash dishes, too.
“Our family is awesome, they’re so sweet,” she said during group reflection time in El Limon. “I made tortillas this morning. Mine are always smaller than hers. I don’t have enough dough apparently. I was really excited about making tortillas.”
The next day, when Rachel realized the family wasn’t able to sell the non-uniform tortillas she made, she decided not to make as many. She appreciated the opportunity to learn, but didn’t want to put the family at a disadvantage in anyway.
She relished the time she was able to spend with her host family. She got to know them on more than a superficial level because she chose to stay with them rather than venture into town or visit other students.
Her only request on the trip: Visit a hospital. We’ll go today when we get back to Managua. She hopes to work in either the emergency room or in family medicine.
If her reaction to the emotional challenge of the last two weeks is any indication, I can’t wait to hear in a few years how she’ll end up helping her medical school classmates keep it together. After that, she hopes to work with Doctors Without Borders.
At tonight’s final reflection she put it plainly: “This has changed my life.”
Rachel, posing with a small piece of black pottery she bought.