The College of Pharmacy partnered with University Ministries for an international spring break Immersion trip geared towards health professional and pre-health professions students. The team was comprised of four faculty and staff members, one professional medical interpreter, eight undergraduate students with an interest or major in healthcare-related fields and two fourth-year pharmacy students. Together they provided diabetes, asthma and vision screenings, as well as nutrition, hygiene and first-aid education to migrant workers at Finca la Azotea coffee plantation in Antigua, Guatemala. Additionally, the team spent one day working with at Escuela Proyecto la Esperanza, a nongovernmental organization school for underprivileged children assessing height weight and vision percentile projections.
Immersion activities included learning about the processes of growing, harvesting, roasting and packaging coffee, grocery shopping in a neighborhood market, visiting a private university, Universidad Francisco Marroquín, touring the Moore Pediatric Surgery Center and attending religious services on Ash Wednesday.
“The impact we may have had from simply educating the plantation employees may save lives one day. We had a few patients share they had family members who died or had been in danger because they did not know basic first-aid. According to our partner in Guatemala, who initiated and helped organize this trip, many other coffee plantations are now expressing interest in collaborating with Belmont to provide similar services at their locations in the future,” said Jordan Tarter, a fourth-year pharmacy student.
This established and ongoing partnership in Guatemala directly complements the College of Pharmacy’s and Belmont’s overall commitment to missions. This is evidenced by the ability of pharmacy and undergraduate students from varied programs to concentrate their experiential learning in missions or public health, if they so choose. It also provides an opportunity to explore interdisciplinary learning and collaboration, as students representing a variety of health and pre-health professional fields combine in one immersion experience.