Spring Break: “Engineering +” in Guatemala

Shuntaro Nishi Chemical, Free Time, Involvement, Service, Shuntaro, Students, Viterbi Life, Viterbi Plus, Why USC Leave a Comment

Already planning your next spring break? Want to travel outside of California and make an impact? Look no further! Alternative Spring Break (ASB) is the program for you at USC! I decided to choose ASB Guatemala due to my lack of experience traveling outside of the nation and my love for working with children.

Looking back on this trip, it has been one of the greatest learning experiences I have had during my time at USC. We had traveled into rural Guatemala to a little town called Retalhuleu (I still to this day do not know if I am pronouncing the name correctly).

We were greeted by students of all ages and even by the town mayor! Our goal in working at the elementary school was to build a retention wall for their soccer field, teach English, and end the day with a soccer game with the kids.

However, on the fourth day I began to break out in fevers. At the advice of one of the teachers, I was rushed to the clinic. The nurses advised I receive a shot, but our local guide advised against it due to the side effects and the foreign nature of the medication. These nurses then began to tell my advisor that I would start convulsing if I wasn’t treated soon so I was rushed over to the regional hospital.

I do not know if it was my fever, but during that ride I decided I would use my chemical engineering degree to helping better the health infrastructure in foreign countries in any way possible. This and other factors have influenced me to work for the pharmaceutical industry to provide safer and cheaper drugs.

This experience I believe is part of my “Engineering +” experience. Outside of the standard classroom setting, I was able to learn about the health structure in Guatemala, how to Marimba, and other non-engineering related topics that ultimately lead me to become a more experienced engineer.

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