2023 Guatemala Study Abroad

Nursing students Rachelle Mahoney (left) and Leylani Blanco (right) teach sex education to a group of female students at the Ak’ Tenamit boarding school, located on the Tatín River and accessible only by boat.

The last two weeks of July, Dr. Mabel Ezeonwu, with the School of Nursing and Health Studies, and her co-Director Amanda Sendele, who supports the Office of Connected Learning, travelled with 14 students to the Rio Dulce Region of Guatemala to provide healthcare to rural indigenous villages. This trip was a component of the eight-week BFSTDY 300A/500A intensive service-learning course, which calls attention to healthcare delivery in resource-poor settings.   

The students were graduates and undergraduates from a variety of different programs and schools, including nursing, health studies, STEM, and IAS. In partnership with the Seattle-based nonprofit Guatemala Village Health, the students worked with physicians and healthcare providers on the ground to offer both education, ranging from women’s health to malaria prevention, and clinic services. During the trip, the group provided care to more than 300 patients of all age ranges, and education to countless more.  

Amanda Sendele noted that, “It was an incredible experience, working and traveling with students for two weeks straight, watching them learn how to navigate in uncomfortable situations and new environments with so much enthusiasm, humility, and flexibility. I have no doubt that they will go on in their future careers as strong advocates for patients and underserved communities”. 

Gratitude in Guatemala

Student team poses in Guatemala

“I am absolutely amazed at how these villages survive in such closed off places,” said Kaila Schober, a Nursing student. “There are villages where they can’t grow their own food, or the closest health clinic could be hours away … to actually be there in person and sharing the space with them is world changing.”

The education during the trip flowed both ways, as the School of Nursing & Health Studies students reported how much they learned about other cultures and about their roles as global citizens…

UW Bothell global public health class visits villages in Guatemala

Student shows Guatemalan adults how to use a blood pressure cuff while outdoors at a picnic table

Outfitted with boxes of medical supplies and purple T-shirts, students from UW Bothell traveled through Guatemala this summer, popping up clinics in rural Mayan villages and providing medical care and education to nearly 400 Indigenous people. Spending a few weeks in the villages, this contingent from a global public health class gained a precious understanding of rural health care in the developing world.

Students trekked to mountain and coastal villages, places where months could pass between visits from medical professionals…