Sophie is a high school junior in the STEM Academy at Madison College. Stepping out…
On the last day of the Puerto Rico trip, I wasn’t ready to leave feeling like I had more questions than when I came in. Before the trip, I thought I had a pretty clear idea of what Puerto Rico would be like — different. The language would be different. The architecture would be different. I thought I wouldn’t be able to relate to the people because I have never experienced the things that they have experienced. But when I got there, I realized it was the exact opposite of what I had previously thought.
For those who may not know, I am a pre-med student. This means that even though I just finished my first semester at UW, I am already starting to plan out my entire path to and beyond med school. Now, if I were to tell you about my expectations prior to this trip, finding and relating to other pre-med students would not have been anywhere on the list. I just thought, I am going to go work on a house. What could I possibly learn about medicine and healthcare from working on a house? Let me tell you.
One day when we arrived at the worksite for the day, the topic of healthcare and medical school came up. It was then that I found out that two of the staff from Techos that we had been working with, Julio and Jayson, both have plans to go to medical school because of the state of the healthcare system in Puerto Rico. At that moment, I felt very shocked that not once on this trip did I consider the healthcare system in this community when that was the exact career that I plan on going into. I knew nothing about it, and so even in our two-minute conversation, I learned so much. But this wasn’t the most important thing I learned. At first, I didn’t quite realize why I was so surprised that there would be pre-med students in Puerto Rico — I mean, it would make sense that there would be if there are doctors there, right? — but for some reason, my brain never made that connection. Then, I realized it was because I was busy looking out for things that would be different. Coming into Puerto Rico, I was listening and learning through a lens that was focused on differences, but after this conversation, my perspective shifted to see similarities as well.
During one of our devotionals on the trip, we talked about justice and feeling like we sometimes don’t have the power to make things better for a number of reasons. For me, one of the things I felt was preventing me from having the power to change things was the fact that I have experienced a different culture than the culture in Puerto Rico. This made me feel like my help could be harmful because I don’t fully understand the situation or how things work there. But when I shifted to focus more on seeing similarities, I began to believe that so many problems can be solved simply with collaboration from all people and whatever help they can offer. This trip taught me that I do have the power to change things, and I hope this lesson can inspire others to realize their potential to have an impact on our communities.
Laura Hyde is a freshman studying neurobiology.
Read the rest of the BWAP 2023 reflections:
Laura Hyde ~ “Unexpected Connections”
Lauren Pettis ~ “From Learning to Living”
Lydia Larsen ~ “The Cost of Paradise”
Aurora Kuelbs ~ “Deep Roots”
Mei Hippe ~ “Deep Love”
Kevin Lee ~ “What the Great Commission Didn’t Tell Me”
Madelyn Peppard ~ “Three Kings Day, a Four-Day Celebration”
Learn more about our partners for BWAP 2023: