- DIVER: Shree Patel
- NATIVE COUNTRY: USA
- CATEGORY: Adventurer
- DIVE: Traveler (World)
- Level: 1
- REQUIREMENTS: Has been to at least 1 foreign country
When and why did you decide to go overseas for the first time?
The first time I went overseas, I was two years old. I didn’t necessarily choose to go because I was too young to make that decision on my own. The first time I deliberately went overseas was when I was in high school and my school had an option to take a trip to Quebec, Canada for any of the students who took French regardless of their skill level. Although it was a very fun trip, my trip to Panama was the trip that sparked my interest to actually pursue world traveling as a dream, and that led me to travel to Nicaragua a year later.
How long did it take for you to accomplish this dive from the day you decided to pursue it, and why did it take that long?
It took me about a year to accomplish this dive. I went to Panama to volunteer as a member with this non profit organization called Global Brigades. It was a rewarding trip because in 3 days, as a group we managed to help over 200 patients by holding a temporary hospital in a school in Panama. We worked with doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to bring healthcare to a rural area that had a hard time accessing healthcare.
When I got back from Panama, I wanted to test my leadership skills and continue being able to help people with what I already knew how to do. That trip then inspired me to pursue my next trip which was traveling to Nicaragua.
It took me a year because I had to apply with to Global Brigades to become a leader. A leader in Global Brigades is able to organize their own trip with other leaders and recruit students at their own university to go on the trip with them. After applying and receiving the notification of my acceptance. It was time to get to work and start recruiting volunteers. In addition, I had to plan the whole trip which meant collecting passport info, holding meetings to inform members, and fundraising enough money to pay for the medications and medical supplies that we would use for patients.
What do you think is the hardest & easiest part about this dive and level?
The hardest part about this dive is the cost!
Traveling around the world is somewhat expensive and you have to have a good financial plan before you pursue this dive. One of the easiest parts of this dive is the fact that there are a ton of resources related to traveling available online. On top of that, there also many resources that explain in detail what the country you are traveling to is like, the availability of photos, and where to even eat. Google is absolutely your best friend when trying to plan a trip! And the people in the Break Diving community are wonderful resources too.
What is your advice for someone who is pursuing this dive and level?
Take the time to learn about where you are going in terms of its culture and history. If you want to make the most of your trip, be sure to research some places that you want to go to beforehand. In addition, if you are traveling to a country that doesn’t speak the same language that your country does, take just a little bit of time to learn a bit of the language so you can get around by yourself. You don’t have to be a pro because the people you meet on your trip there will know you are not from their country. However, they will appreciate that you took the time to learn a bit about their language and culture. It’s the least you can do!
How did you prove you met the requirements for this level?
I showed a plane ticket confirmation to the staff at Break Diving. In addition, I had some photos and videos that proved that I went to Nicaragua!
Tell us the story of the trip! (At least 5 paragraphs)
I traveled to Nicaragua for 9 days in August 2016. I went with about 30 other volunteers from my University.
My favorite portion of the trip was when we did rotations at the hospital. This was a chance for everyone to experience how working at a hospital is like and how to interact with patients. It was also a great way to get to know the community even though we spoke a completely different language and came from a different country!
Each day, we would work have two shifts and in each shift we would work at a certain part of the clinic. My group started the first day in the pharmacy where we worked together to prepare the doctors’ prescriptions for the patients. It was a relaxed environment because it was early in the day and not many patients had arrived at the clinic. It was a great way to take the time and get to know the other members on the trip more.
After lunch had ended, we moved onto the next shift where we got a chance to work with doctors and see them in action. In about 2 hours, we observed the doctor diagnose over 30 patients! There were some patients who were suffering from serious diseases like yellow fever, cancer, and dengue. Those patients were asked to go to the main hospital in Managua where they could get further treatment. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t have been able to get much treatment at this clinic because there were limited resources.
The next day, we worked in triage which is the first step of the clinic. This is the part of the clinic where patients get a chance to explain what brings them to the hospital and we take note of that on a form that we send over to the doctors. The reason why this was my favorite part was because it completely pulled me out of my comfort zone. All of the patients that went through the hospital spoke only Spanish. This was the part where I had to rely on my Spanish skills that I barely remembered from high school to speak with the patients. We had a set of prepared questions that we had to ask our patients in Spanish. Reading off the questions wasn’t difficult but what made this difficult for me was listening to what the patients were saying and trying to understand the reason as to why they were here.
Initially, I relied on translators to tell me that the patient was here because they had pain in their knee or they were here because they were coughing. However, as I interacted more with the patients I learned very quickly that hand gestures were my best friend! I also started to understand on my own what they were explaining to me. By the end of this shift, the translator had left me on my own and moved onto to other volunteers who needed help with translations! I felt so accomplished because I went from not feeling very comfortable with my Spanish to listening to what these patients said and understanding what they said!
The best thing of it all was that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way on the trip! One of the other volunteers who was in another shift for triage told met that in high school he had taken French in high school. In fact, he was very scared about interacting with the patients because of the language barrier. However, by the end of the shift, he was able to say a few phrase enthusiastically like, “Uno paciente, por favor!!!” which signaled one of the community members from the village to call the next patient over. He was also very happy and surprised by how he was able to break out of his comfort zone.
The morning shift at triage gave the volunteers in my group the confidence to handle the next shift which was Charla. Charla means chat in Spanish which was a way for us to work with the kids and explain to them more about hygiene. We also gave them fluoride treatments and played soccer with them! At the end of the charla and after we played with the kids, we handed out dental supplies to the kids so they can practice their hygiene to have a long term effect on their lives.
On the final day of the medical portion of the brigade, I had a chance to observe the dentist in action. It was a small room and we really got a chance to see up close the dentist and his assistant perform extractions and fillings. In the US, a lot of people are afraid of going to the dentist and the feelings are very similar amongst patients in Nicaragua as well. There was a patient, a girl in her teens, who was very scared about being at the dentist. I tried my best to communicate with her and to tell her that everything was going to be alright. I asked her name, her age, and if she went to school. She also asked me the same questions and we just talked until the dentist had to perform a filling. After the dentist had finished, she left and told me something in Spanish. However, I didn’t understand what she said until the dentist translated and told me that she was glad that you were there because she felt very scared otherwise. I was so surprised and shocked that a simple conversation like that can have an affect on someone else. This is what made me realize how important it was to continue volunteering because I had never in my entire life felt more fulfilled than I did at that moment.
Will you be pursuing the next level? If so, what is the next level, and what is your plan? If not, why not?
Yes of course! I will definitely be pursuing the next level because I want to be able to travel the world. It may not happen very quickly but it is something that I plan on pursuing.
And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Shree Patel is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: ADVENTURER – TRAVELER (WORLD) – LEVEL 1. Congratulations Shree! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!
The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at www.breakdiving.io and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!