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Ronald Porter
Acting Director of Service Learning

Eckerd College
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St. Petersburg, FL 33711

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Service Learning

Service Learning

Mexico: Spring Break 06

Mexico

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On Saturday, March 18th, eleven Eckerd Students of all classes, Professor Olivier Debure, Professor Kelly Debure, and their daughter, departed for Mexico to work with the Yucatan State's Health department on a health campaign project and other activities for the Mayan community of Dzitnup. Dzitnup is located two hours west of Cancun, and ten minutes from the colonial town of Valladolid. Some of these activities included painting a run down wall with health ads, aiding the local doctor and her staff with in daily consultations, going door to door and talking to people about hygiene, participating in a garbage collection campaign, educating local school children on dental hygiene and reemphasizing the importance of picking up trash, and a pet vaccination campaign.

Our service group began the weeklong trip by sanding down a wall located on an abandoned schoolhouse outside of the health clinic. A group of students continued to paint health messages throughout the week that may concern the people of the village. These ads included a world with people holding hands symbolizing world unity, a hand displaying the different types of violence on it's fingers, a peace sign, a trash can with an arrow pointing down into it to promote the proper disposal of waste, an aids ribbon, and a sun shining above all of the individual paintings. By the time the project was competed, Eckerd students left a very impressive and educational work of art for the town. A few students on this trip are pre-medicine majors, so they were given the opportunity to work in the clinic one on one with the doctor in administering diabetes tests, taking blood, and helping her with consultations. This was a good opportunity for these aspiring doctors to practice their medical skills and help the doctor in keeping the community healthy.

Another group of students who were fluent in Spanish walked door-to-door and talked to people about the importance of picking up trash and disposing of waste. They also picked up trash around the town themselves to set a good example. A small group of students also spent a day in the classroom at the middle school demonstrating the steps for healthy teeth and gums; such as healthy eating habits, brushing, flossing, and the use of mouth wash. Another small group also taught students about environmental issues such as pollution. One of the most interesting projects of the trip was the dog and cat vaccination campaign. Eckerd students went door to door with one of the clinic's nurses to administer rabies shots to people's dogs and cats, an experience that no one had ever had before.

Students participated in all service activities, interacted with the locals, and worked in the small community as a team to motivate and help each other. It would have never been possible without the leadership of Fernanda Espejo, Professor Olivier Debure and Professor Kelly Debure. This trip was a unique and memorable experience for all.

View photos from Mexico

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