Taylor Wrencher (Lumbee), 21, participated in a medical volunteer opportunity in Trujillo, Peru providing community service and working to improve the functional abilities of Peruvian children. In turn, Taylor found herself gaining inspiration and a new outlook on life.
While in Trujillo from December 16, 2015 – January 4, 2016, Taylor provided much-needed aid to children with cerebral palsy in the following areas:
- Attended medical training classes centered on critical knowledge for rotations in state hospitals
- Helped with physical therapy sessions for children with cerebral palsy
- Shadowed and observed clinic consultations and a surgery
- Administered several vaccinations, and
- Observed and assisted with daily activities of psychiatric patients
Taylor’s most memorable moment came from providing therapy to one young child in particular, Felix. At the last therapy session, Felix’s mother informed Taylor that her son very rarely showed facial expressions due to the limitations cause by his cerebral palsy. Throughout her time for caring for this little boy, Taylor defeated the odds and was able to make him smile often. “This was the biggest highlight of my trip,” Taylor said.
Taylor stayed with a Peruvian host family during her time in Trujillo, which she contributes to helping her feel at home away from home. “They became my family,” she said. She learned how to better interact with community members and was able to actively experience the culture first-hand.
- “Language does not have to be a barrier, if you don’t make it one.
- Do not place too many expectations on the trip and what you want to get out of it because it will influence the way you experience things. If your expectations are too high, you might be disappointed. Enjoy the ride! Allow the experience to shape itself.
- There are going to be cultural differences, but you have to take the time to understand those differences.
- Technology is not always necessary. Interacting with people is more valuable. You will make more long-lasting relationships and your time spent will be more meaningful if you are not reliant on always having technology.”
Because of her experience, Taylor encourages every student to take advantage of opportunities abroad. “You create a special bond with the people you travel with. They are your family and have experienced the same things that you have, the same way that you went through them. Because your experiences are similar, they can relate to you on a deeper and more personal level.”
Taylor is a double major who will be graduating in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology with a Social and Economic Justice Minor. She plans to become a Child Psychiatrist.
The Center for Global Initiatives works to expand global opportunities at UNC through collaborative programs + projects and competitive awards + fellowships that connect people across borders and disciplines. They are especially interested in opening access to global opportunities to students who are traditionally underrepresented in this sphere. Their vision is that everyone at UNC has access to such opportunities and can seize them if desired. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by their office in Suite 3000 on the third floor of the FedEx Global Education Center.
For information about additional resources offered to UNC students, contact Native Student Engagement Coordinator Qua Lynch at email@example.com.