A Helping Hand
Candice Jiang ’19 participated in a medical service trip
“I have never learned Spanish in my entire life, and Peru is a Spanish-speaking country,” Candice Jiang ’19 said in an interview with the Justice.
Spanish is one of the many things that Jiang, a biology and anthropology major from China, learned while on the service trip to Peru that she embarked on over the most recent break. Students, some of whom also came from Brandeis, traveled to La Merced, a small town in the jungle near the Andes Mountains. Jiang chose to participate in this trip because she had never been on a medical service trip and is passionate about further developing the health care field. One of her goals was to “expand outside her bubble and see how healthcare works in other cultures and countries” and subsequently gain a better picture of global healthcare.
Jiang encountered several surprises in her quest to better understand global healthcare. When she arrived at the hospital in La Merced at which she volunteered, she noticed that the roads near the hospital were poorly paved. Such an obstacle, she concluded, made it difficult for individuals to travel to the hospital from distant places. The hospital itself was large and new, which was unexpected, considering its rural location.
Naturally, Jiang picked up on several differences between Peruvian and American medical operations and infrastructure. In the United States, according to Jiang, medical operations are well-structured and healthcare quality is high. Peru, on the other hand, is still a developing country that is trying to implement new operations and infrastructures that have been working in American society for years, but which are not necessarily as suitable for Peru.
Jiang found out that several patients had been, and many others continue to be, diagnosed with Hepatitis B, as well as other diseases for which most individuals within the United States receive vaccination. She found this major gap in medical development between the two countries highly surprising, especially given how common vaccines are within American society and culture.
Jiang believes that “We need to make changes that are specific to communities and cultures” based on their needs and wants. Not all of the medical operations and infrastructures found in Western society will benefit Peruvians due to their vastly different societal structure.
This forward-thinking notion ties into one of the many ideals that Jiang learned while on this trip, which is the importance of “exploring different cultures and understanding how society works from [their] perspectives.”
At the end of the day, Jiang believes that “We need to stop seeing [Peruvian people] as being left behind and needing help. We need to see the system from their perspective and make it better for them.” And while this statement does not solve the medical dilemmas within Peruvian society and culture, it does give us all a place from which to start thinking.