Name: Jessica Brownstein
Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan
Nationality: United States
University: University of Michigan
Degree: Biomolecular Science
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (intermediate)
Past travel experience: Intermediate
Volunteer Abroad: Medical Assistance in Quito, Ecuador
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: July 2015
Claim to fame: Works as a facilitator of Organic Chemistry through the Science Learning Center at the University of Michigan.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG volunteer because I wanted to volunteer and experience living in a different country. UBELONG provided a hands-on, affordable experience where I could make a positive difference in a different country. I had the opportunity to work in a medical clinic, where I assisted the doctors in weighing patients, taking patients’ temperatures, removing stitches, cleaning wounds, and treating other symptoms.
What is your favorite memory from volunteering abroad?
My favorite memories of my volunteer experience is having dinner at the house with all of the UBELONG volunteers. We called this our family dinner because the volunteers and Ecuadorean family we lived with really did feel like a second family. We all shared our daily adventures of our volunteering and planned our next trip somewhere in Ecuador. We spent hours each night eating gathered around the table just talking and laughing with each other. I loved getting to know all of the volunteers I lived with and still continue to keep in touch with many of them.
What did you take from the experience?
I gained so much from this experience. I learned so much from volunteering in the clinic. The doctors showed me how to take someone’s blood pressure, how to clean open wounds, how to remove and perform stitches, and so much more. I also had the opportunity to watch the doctors interact and diagnose patients. In addition to the clinic, I also learned a lot about Ecuadorean culture and customs. I had the opportunity to travel all around Ecuador in my free time and was able to see so much of a beautiful country.
What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
My advice for a future volunteer would be to enjoy every minute of your experience! My trip went by so quickly I wish I could have stayed longer. At first, living and working in a foreign country can be kind of intimidating, but I felt extremely comfortable within a few days. I would also advise a new volunteer to try not to get frustrated; speaking a different language and learning new customs can be frustrating at times, but try to just relax and enjoy your experience!