Puebla Service Project

Hello blog readers!

I hope everyone has been enjoying summer as much as I have. Between going to Mexico, working, volunteering at a Diabetes camp, and my IPPE, I have not had that much time to just relax.   Now that my IPPE is over, I hope to document all that I have done since school ended. Firstly,   I wanted to spend some time talking about the Puebla Service Trip; it was a great experience and I could not think of a better way to cap off first year (NOTE, most of this was written about 5 days after the trip ended, over a month ago.  I wish I had this freaky of a good memory…. day 5,6,7 may be a little cloudy) .  Here is a quick run through of the trip.  For a more accurate and candid representation of the trip, my classmate Vu Ha made a great video, here!

Day 1: On May 16, myself and three of my Twin Cities classmates woke up way to early to go to the MSP airport to fly out to Mexico city.  Despite probably not being at full mental functioning due to still being burnt out from finals and having it be 6am,  I am grateful I had still the judgement to make arguably one of the best purchases of my life: a neck pillow.  Though I could not have predicted some of the crazy transportation methods I would experience in Puebla, I knew there would be plenty of plane and bus miles in my near future.


After we got to Mexico, we were welcomed to the city with pouring rain and a two hour long customs line.  Because us four, along with one of our preceptors, were the last people to arrive, we pretty much got on the bus right away.  Because the trip consisted of about 1/3 Twin Cities students and 2/3 Duluth students I barely knew anyone on the bus…. luckily that would change over the next 7 days!

Day 2: After waking up and finally being able to see sunlight, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the small town we were in, Xochitlan


After having a wonderful three course breakfast that the hotel staff prepared for us, we were off for our first day of clinic.  The 30 some of us were divided into 4 groups, each going to a different clinic site.  At the clinics, anywhere from 20-50 patients would come.  We took their vital signs and administered glucose/A1c and cholesterol tests.  The patients ended their visit with an education consult about their results.  On this day, I did blood testing.  While I was a bit nervous and shaky at first while collecting blood from patients, by patient 20 I felt completely comfortable getting blood from even the most dehydrated or thick-skinned patient.

After clinic, we went as a group to go swimming at a little water hole.  Just as amazing as the site itself was being crammed in the back of a truck  with 30 people (ok, not that part) that was completely open so we could feel the wind and completely be immersed in the beautiful mountains and pastures… priceless.



Highlight of the night? Playing soccer with five little 7 year olds on the street.  Don’t ask the result… it is still a bitter topic among my uhhh… 7 teammates and myself.

Day 3: This day started pretty much the same as the day before.  We were thrown in a pick-up truck and shipped off to the next clinic site.  Today we saw 50 patients! If I wasn’t completely comfortable with the blood stuff yesterday, I sure was today! Both days I also got to practice my Spanish since I do have to explain to the patient that I am going to prick  their finger! After clinic was over, we all jammed  (in that we were all jammed in there and we actually jammed a bit) in the back  of a truck to go to the next city that we were staying at, Cuetzlan. Cuetzalan was definitely bigger than Xochitlan, and our hotel actually had wifi.  It was at this point we all obsessively fought for the wifi  signal to get back on the grid… there were many pressing orders of business such as informing people we were still alive and checking grades on moodle.  Also, I’m not lying when I say my and my roommates hotel room was the best.  We all had giant queen beds to ourselves and it had one of the nicest bathrooms I’ve ever been in.

Day 4: After waking up and being served yet another giant breakfast, we were off to day 3 of clinic! This day, our clinic was outside under a giant overhang (torrential downpours are a thing in Mexico).  Today I did height and weight instead of blood, but I appreciated mixing things up since I was able to learn more vocabulary.  At the end of clinic I also got to try out my soccer skills yet again with some of the youth of the city.  I think this time we won 🙂  After Clinic, some people went to go to a coffee factory, but I went to yet another waterfall.  Little did I know, that I would have the chance to go zip-lining through the jungle for the cost of about $8.  I was just a little bit scared that something was going to snap and it was going to end for me there, but I convinced myself that I needed to just YOLO it and do it.  I’m lucky to have a few others just as crazy as I am for morale support!



On this night, we went to the home of one of our guides, Homero, and had a great night of food and dancing.

Day 5: After one more day of clinic, we headed to the city of Puebla…. by bus this time though. So sophisticated!  We had a bit slower day of clinic today, but still a steady flow of patients.  Below is Group C, the best clinic group!


I got to do the intake process on this day, so I got great practice asking about the patient’s medications and health history in Spanish.  We ended up getting to Puebla pretty late, and went out for dinner in the big town square.  This was the first time I had good old fashioned Mexican Tacos.. absolutely delicious.

Day 6: This day was spent exploring Puebla and the surrounding areas.  I have never felt like such a tourist…. it was a tad bit embarrassing but mainly great.  We went on a tour bus that went around the city, and in the afternoon went into a surrounding suburb to look at pyramids.  We definitely went into the pyramid the wrong way, because we didn’t actually see the pyramid part of the pyramid until the end.  For dinner, we went to a pizza place and it was literally the best pizza I have ever had in my life. If you haven’t gotten the idea, Mexico has great food.


Day 7: So I may have already mentioned that Mexico has really great food (or maybe that is what I remember the most 1 month after the trip). Breakfast of our last day in Puebla consisted of Nutella Stuffed Churros… enough said.  We had one more bus ride ahead of us to Mexico city, where we started! We spent the last part of the day exploring Mexico city.  They had a beautiful cathedral that we got to go into, and then there was a “festival of nations” which had different booths of all the different countries.  The US booth featured Michael Jordan, Apple Pie and the Statue of Liberty…. pretty ‘ Merican I suppose. We ended the day like we started…. with great food. We went to a restaurant where I had a steak covered in brie cheese in puff pastry, all smothered in pumpkin cream sauce. Not something you see everyday on the menu, which is why I had to get it!

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Day 8:  Sadly, it was time to say goodbye and go home.  My flight was at 9 am, so I got to wake up super early to go home.  I flew straight to San Francisco to go home for a bit, so I enjoyed a slightly shorter flight than my Minnesota-bound counterparts.  A few skin shades darker, a few dozen bug bites itchier, quite a few Spanish words wiser and plenty of Duluth friends richer, I could not have been happier I chose to go on this trip! I would recommend it to any student at the college and hope my I have enough dinero to go again next year!

Anyways, that was Puebla.  Hopefully soon I can talk about the diabetes camp I volunteered at and my IPPE.  Tomorrow I am going to celebrate the American dream by waking up at 5am to go run the Red White and Boom Half Marathon and then getting double pay at work in the afternoon .  I am a bit weird so I’m pretty happy about both of these things.

Have a wonderful fourth of July and hopefully I’ll be back soon!

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  1. Sweet Summer | Go-Dog College of Pharmacy Blog

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