As part of the program’s first service trip, several senior Tisch Scholars for Citizenship and Public Service spent ten days volunteering at health clinics and other NGOs in Treasure Beach, Jamaica.
“Applying what I learned in public health classes at Tufts to what I saw at Treasure Beach was an extremely valuable experience,” Chloe Poon ’11 reflected. “Nurse practitioners see over forty patients in one day – something which would never happen in the U.S. – but are able to give each of their patients such attention and great care, it was really impressive to see.”
International relations & community health major Allison Lawrence ’11 said she learned a lot from her week working at the Junction Health Clinic.
Lebrón- Torres and Lawrence with Nurse Practitioners at the Junction Health Clinic
“As I accompanied my supervisor on visits to community members – to check on their water quality and public health risks – it really struck me how she interacted with people without judging them,” Lawrence said. “This experience really opened my eyes to how public health functions and is administered at a community level. You can’t judge and you have to be humble about your interactions because you can’t change how people approach their health unless you know how to interact and to talk to people without preaching to them.”
Namibia Lebron Torres ’11 and Matt Hibert ’11 also worked at Junction, weighing and measuring babies, and taking vital signs, relieving the staff and providing them with much needed additional time to serve patients.
“I learned how a clinic can be run with such severely limited resources compared to the U.S., mainly because of the caring and organized nurses and staff, who were so attentive towards the patients and made them confortable,” Torres said.
Jessica Oh exploring Jamaican agriculture
Meanwhile, Tomas Valdes ’11 and Jessica Oh ’11 worked with an NGO that trains small subsistence farms in organic agriculture.
“Being a farmer is a tough job, and it was even tougher for the 70 years old man we worked with,” Valdes said. “He told us that because of his age, he often forgets what he plants and where he plants it.”
Valdes and Oh worked with the farmer to create a map of his land. Because the farmer was also illiterate, they used pictures to clearly indicate which crops were planted where. This map will allow the farmer to rotate crops for the next planting cycle – which is ideal for crop health.
Also on the trip, Terhys Persad ’11 found the perfect match for her interest in women’s studies – volunteering with the Treasure Beach Women’s Group Benevolent Society, transcribing notes of community meetings and working with the staff.
“I realized that you learn things from unexpected places,” Persad reflected. “When I was asked to transcribe pages and pages of handwritten notes, I heaved a huge sigh and expected boredom. Instead, I learned the amazing history of the organization and all they had been able to accomplish in Treasure Beach – drainage systems, arts initiatives, health fairs, literacy classes – all accomplished through a group of women coming together.”
Originally published February 2011