Week 3: New Territory

First things first, special shout out on this day to the man who makes it all possible. Happy Father’s Day, dad…

All smiles before dropping 13000 feet

 

Here’s a video of our attempts to learn how to surf at Playa Tamarindo this past weekend!

Now…

New blog, an even buggier city. However, it is hard to see it that way when you’re staying in a place called EARTH University (Escuela de Agricultura de la Región Tropical Húmeda) with nature as expansive as far as the eye can see. This university, located in Liberia, Guanacaste, is something truly special: it takes the future leaders from around the world, from nearly 40 countries, and provides scholarships so students can learn about the agricultural process and innovate change. They raise everything from sugar cane to oxen to mosquitos, all alongside some monkeys and jaguars for good fun. Fun fact, they do not receive any funding from the Costa Rican government, but yet their yearly exports of agricultural products allows them to maintain the high-quality establishment we are staying on while providing up to 80% of students with scholarships to cover their entire tuition. While these students may only attend class one day per week, it is still an amazing ecosystem that these people run here.

So, what have we been up to this past week? As always, it is important to start with food. With the exception of some variation between eggs for breakfast, and some sort of meat and veggie for lunch and dinner, it has consistently been, drumroll…

Yep, rice and beans. Breakfast, rice and beans. Lunch, rice and beans. Dinner, rice and beans. Some avoid it at this point, but I am still going strong and enjoying every grain, especially since there is no Subway within walking distance to offer their Sub of the Day. Regardless, props for rice and beans being a staple in my diet.

In other news, we have been pretty busy this past week! While we may not have had short courses at night, our consistent regimen of 8-4 everyday has been nothing but productive. Apart from our descent into EARTH University, we have had the opportunity to observe Hospital Liberia, which is substantially more different from the hospitals in the capital city of San José in terms of layout, funding, and even perception. Regardless, learning more about Liberia’s pathology, physical therapy, and dialysis departments was a completely new experience from last week. With respect to physical therapy, just as it is a major issue in the United States, we need to find better solutions to allow disabled personnel in wheelchairs to have the same access to physical therapy tools, buildings, etc. as anybody else.

We also had a chance to visit a dialysis clinic, but not ones that you may commonly think of: these 12 people only have access to peritoneal dialysis. In contrast to the methods we see today in the United States, these patients must come from all parts of the country to this hospital for 6 days per week and perform 5-6 procedures per day to flush out their abdomen. It is a grueling and potentially high risk for infection process that barely gives time to these people to spend with their families. One of the greatest needs that came out of this is a way to allow these patients to perform peritoneal dialysis from their homes so they can spend more time with their families, but this requires a sterile environment to do so as defined by the caja, or Costa Rican government. This upcoming week we will have the opportunity to implement the design project that was created by last year’s GMI cohort called DialOasis. This project focuses on an efficient structure that will provide the patient to perform peritoneal dialysis within their home for a low cost. It is an extremely exciting venture, and I truly do look forward to sharing our results in next week’s blog.

Another noteworthy experience was taking the time to visit a local university called Invenio. One of their defining qualities is that they focus on internship-based learning. In fact, once a student graduates from this school, they will have had 2 full years of work experience, which is more than I can say for myself. It is an extremely intriguing endeavor, and I wish them all the best as they continue to grow. I believe that this style of teaching (24 months of learning, 24 months of work) will serve as the foundation of successful students in the future, as this style of teaching will truly cater to the creative minds of engineering students rather than to the book-smart academic.

Aside from that, I believe that photos are worth a thousand words, so here are some photos from the week!

 

Team Sloth Hands, here to improve hand sanitation in hospitals around Costa Rica!

 

A great lunch on an even greater day

Sunset in Tamarindo

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