I remember first arriving in Haiti. The blast of heat stepping off the plane, cramming onto a mini school bus, and staring out the windows at the outskirts of Cap Haitian and the rural road to Milot. “I’m in Haiti…,” I kept telling myself, trying to absorb all that I was seeing. The landscape, the way people live here, the norms of this culture were so different from anything I had seen before. We walked the streets of Milot that first day and I strongly recall the uncomfortable feeling of all eyes on us, the trash and the pigs in the rivers, and the children crying, “Blan! Blan!” as we walked past. It’s funny what happens after you’ve been in a place for a while. It ceases to be constantly foreign and overwhelming. I no longer see only abject poverty out the windows or while we walk through villages. I notice the details, walls painted bright blue, yellow, red, the heart design carved out of brick that make up the windows of every home, the bright red hibiscus flowers and cacti that form walls around each family’s plot of land. When I walk through Milot now I expect people to stare, why wouldn’t they? I say “bonjou” to them and smile, and get a “bonjou” and a smile back. I look for the goat babies we pass on our runs, and am always comforted by the mountains surrounding this little town. Haiti is poor, yes, and I am reminded of that every day, but there is so much more to it than that. I wrote the above two paragraphs in my blog a little over a month into my trip to Haiti this summer. They sum up my feeling of becoming part of a place, as much as an American medical student can become part of a small Haitian town in 7 weeks. I had a truly amazing, fulfilling, and personally enriching experience. My first learning objective was, “to gain confidence in applying the clinical skills I have learned thus far, through working with patients every day.” I became very comfortable working through an interpreter, as this was the only way to...
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