Archive for May, 2011

Heather Kregal Travels To Guatemala For Medical Missions With Funding From ACU Honors College

by   |  05.31.11  |  Honors College News

Never again will I feel the same way when I reach for a bottle of water, after seeing people drink water that I would not want to use to do my laundry this past March.  My spring break campaign to Guatemala was an experience unlike anything I have ever had.  I have been on mission trips in the past, but something about combining my passion for medicine and my love for the Hispanic people made this a week I will never forget.  The group from ACU spent about a week in Chichicastenango, traveling to towns around the larger city every day to set up a medical/dental clinic and to deliver water filters to area families.  In this way, we ministered to as many needs in the community as possible.  Though it was both emotionally and physically exhausting for me and for those with whom I went, it was certainly the most rewarding experience of my life so far.

Our trip opened with, what I called in my journal, ‘America in Spanish.’  After staying in Guatemala City for a night, I felt adequately prepared to conquer any problems that may be present in a third world country.  I had eaten McDonalds for dinner and fresh fruit for breakfast, slept in a king size bed with a mattress nicer than that in my dorm, and showered, using as much hot water as I pleased.  Then the real trip began.  When we began loading the van, the Dunhams, a husband and wife very involved with Health Talents International there in Guatemala who guided our work while we were there, taught us the first saying imperative to know in Guatemala.  “Where three fit, four fit.”  I found out quickly the practical application of this when fourteen of us piled into a fourteen-passenger van… and then began realized our luggage would be in the same van.  The three-hour drive was torturous.  Twists and turns that ought to be outlawed characterized a rough, bumpy ride.  Then, we were in Chichicastenango, and I saw the real Guatemala.

Though each day was characterized by its own unique set of challenges, we quickly learned to expect problems and handle them when they came.  We worked Monday through Thursday.  I was in a different town each day, ranging from Caris to Xepocol.  Some were only ten minutes or so from our hotel, whereas one was two hours even farther up the mountain.  We started bright and early each morning, dressed in our scrubs with HTI nametags in place.

The first day, I helped to deliver water filters.  These were specifically for families in the areas we visited involved in the ABC program.  This program helps to support the poorest families, who frequently take their children out of school at a very young age in order for them to begin working and supporting their family.  The ABC program works to provide the basic necessities for these families, in exchange for leaving their children in school, allowing them to get a better education and be better equipped to someday contribute to their community.  Kemmel Dunham told us that even the teens given the opportunity to continue schooling through high school, allowing them to pursue jobs as teachers in the city, often return to the family home.  This act is seen as one of loyalty to family and to roots, both of which are held in the highest of esteem there.  Kemmel and three of us students set out with ten filter systems or so, prepared to clean and set one up at each house.  I was amazed at how easily Kemmel found each home!  We would leave on a dirt road, which wound into another dirt road, which dead ended into a field, which we crossed to another dirt road…and yet he always knew where we were going.  Suddenly, there would be a low-walled structure or two, and two or three generations of a family would be there to greet us.  To me, this spoke of many visits similar to this one.  He cared enough for these people to visit them frequently.  While his wife, a physician, cared for the bodies of the ill, Kemmel cared deeply for their hearts.  The Guatemalans welcomed him into their homes as though he were one of them, questioning him regarding the health of his wife and children, and treating him like family.  Though they were more with those of us new to the work, we were always welcomed with some foreign drink or food.  I ate and drank some things of which I am unaware of their origins, but it would have been rude to decline.  This was when I learned a valuable lesson of missionary work.  Others come first.  If you had asked me if I knew this before I went to Guatemala, I would have said yes.  Kemmel showed me otherwise.  His whole life is about service, whether it means walking a mile on a dirt road through the brush or drinking a drink with unsubstantiated chunks in it because it was offered.

The next two days, I shadowed Dr. Jeff Webb, a dentist from Abilene who had been on this trip several times.  Shadowing a dentist was a new experience for me, and I enjoyed it tremendously.  Dr. Webb explained to me the different purposes of the bones in the jaw and allowed me to be as close as possible while he was working.  I handed him instruments, of which he taught me the names and purposes.

The first day, we did check-ups on about thirty ABC kids.  It was sad to see how many children had teeth already rotting and causing tremendous amounts of pain.  The poor hygiene prevalent in the poorer regions of Guatemala wreaks havoc on the children’s teeth and gums.  Dr. Webb told me that many health problems in third world countries are caused by ignorance.  The next day, I got an even clearer picture of this.  The number of dental patients that day was astounding.  They formed a line outside the clinic, many in pain, and we began to usher them into the small, low ceilinged, dark room a few at a time.  Each of our two dentists would take a patient, administer anesthesia, and begin pulling teeth.  I saw wisdom teeth pulled, and as many as four adult teeth pulled on a single patient.  There was little we could do to relieve their pain other than pull the teeth and give them enough ibuprofen for a few days.  It was so sad to see that, though they left with gaps in their mouths of which an American would be ashamed, they left smiling, for they were no longer in pain.  I saw gratitude unlike any I have ever seen on the faces of people who had been granted relief from a condition that may have plagued them for years.

Another characteristic I saw frequently this week was bravery.  People trekked over the mountains for hours to be able to see a physician.  The children we saw came back to see the dentist alone, facing the new and the scary without a parental arm around them to soothe the fear.  Courage in the face of adversity is a way of life for the Guatemalan people.  My hurt hearts for these people who are constantly suffering, yet find reasons to smile and special strength to face each day.   When I returned home at the end of the week, I was appalled to see how much I constantly take day-to-day luxuries for granted.  The people of Guatemala opened my eyes to a part of the world I had not seen, but will never forget.

Honors Travel Grant Helps Krystal Fogle Spend Semester In Europe

by   |  05.31.11  |  Honors College News

Spring Break in Italy; what other destination could top that?  Myself and four other ACU students ventured out to the great country of pizza and pasta to see the sights and show some Italian pride.  Along the way, we encountered what we came to call “movie moments,” those special times when we felt like we were living out a movie instead of real life!  Basically, our spring break in Italy was magical!

After spending time in London with my family, so I caught a 6 AM flight out of Gatwick (uh-oh!  I booked a ticket for last week? Good thing they had one more ticket!) and made my way across the Italian countryside in a train to find my friends at the Trevi fountain.  Not being able to speak Italian, I gazed around me with wide-open eyes, astounded to see luscious lemon trees in people’s backyards as I chugged past on the train.  Thankfully, once I exited the train and got lost and found a couple times, I managed to find and board the metro towards the Trevi fountain.  Upon arrival at the correct stop, I had to literally shove my way off of the metro train car.  Wondering why the train was so crowded (I found out later it was Italy’s Unification Day festivities, which apparently lasted all week!), I hustled towards the escalator and miraculously bumped into my friends!  By the grace of God, we had boarded the same train and exited in perfect time to find each other.  If I had not found them, I would have been utterly lost, and also soaked, since a downpour had initiated since I boarded the metro.

After seeing the Trevi fountain, replete with “Roman guards” meandering around hoping tourists would pay for photos, we scrambled under overcast skies towards the Vatican (see photo).  Inside, we were stunned, then slightly bored, by all of the paintings.  In fact, there is so much breathtaking artwork inside, running up the walls and across the ceilings, that we were underwhelmed when we (finally) reached the actual Sistine chapel (that sounds horrendously appalling, that we were bored by the Michelangelo’s masterpiece.  He’s still a genius! However, his work was outshone by my exhaustion and art overload).  Sad, but true.

Early the next morning, we arose to remember that the kind owner of our hostel knew not a word of English.  Nor did we speak Italian.  Thankfully, she managed to count out the change we needed for our payment.  Hostels stays make for great stories; in this one, for example, though we had made a reservation for two girls (the rest of our group were in a different hostel…that’s a long story), there was only one bed.  A queen-size bed, but only one none the less.  With cheetah print sheets.  Still, it was probably the cleanest, nicest hostel I have stayed at.  After muddling through checking out of our room, we went to see the Coliseum.  I was in absolute awe, thinking of the history which surrounded me (see two pictures).  Enthralled, I could not stop looking at the Coliseum.  That is, until I saw a couple in wedding dress down the street (photo).  Our group joked happily about photobombing as we walked past the wedding party, staring openly.  The couple was Asian (my uncle later informed me that in China, it is considered good luck to get married in Italy, so many wealthy couples host their weddings in Italian cities) and a man ran up to us speaking Chinese.  We thought he was shouting at us to move out of the pictures (photobomb=successful!) but then he began gesturing wildly for us to follow him toward the wedding party.  He lined us up with the wedding guests, then shoved confetti into our hands.  He wanted us to toss the confetti at the bride and groom as they walked down the row of people!  We were ecstatic, and knew we were in the midst of a genuine movie moment.

Later that day, we went to buy our bus ticket to Milan.  Only…there were no more tickets that day.  Suddenly worried, we rushed to the train station to find a way to make our hostel reservations.  We were able to, thankfully, and felt once again as if we had stepped into a cinema screen.  Watching the Italian geography roll past, we grinned at one another, sure that our trip would be smooth.  Unfortunately, we managed to miss our connecting train.  In the confusion, one of our party lost her wallet.  Then, the station manager told us (in Italian) that we had made a mistake (I can assure you, it was the train conductor’s fault) and had to catch a train which happened to be leaving right that very moment.  We reached the train, out of breath, just as the doors slammed shut.  Grasping for the door handles, we watched as a young Italian man on the other side of the glass reached out as well, hoping to let us on.  Alas, the train pulled away from our reach and we despondently watched it puff away.  We then had to wait a couple of hours for the next train.

When we arrived in Milan, we had an interesting time finding our hostel in the late-night darkness but were relieved upon reaching it to find English speakers in residence.  We were rather startled, however, when some things did not quite translate.  For example, the next morning, the girl we were told would be joining our room turned out to be a half-naked man.  Such are the experiences one finds while traveling abroad.  Still, our stay in Milan was quite peaceful.  Well, aside from the vendors insisting we buy bracelets and birdseed.  And when I say insisting, I mean they grabbed my friends’ arms and tied bracelets on or thrust birdseed in hands while encouraging pigeons to land and peck at the seed.  The vendors congregated in front of the massive Duomo, or cathedral (photo).  We climbed a staircase up to the roof of the Duomo.  We were then able to walk around the roof and watch over the city while admiring gargoyle’s grimaces up close.  The rest of our trip really was smooth and enjoyable as we celebrated a friend’s birthday and took part in a Unification Day parade (we’re pretty sure we were on Italian television).  Movie moments accounted for, bags packed and smiles intact, we made our way back to Oxford, knowing that this Spring Break would be hard to beat.

Honors College Gets New Dean

by   |  05.23.11  |  Honors College News, Uncategorized

Business student Joseph Austin participates in study for ACU’s Center for Business and Economic Research

by   |  05.16.11  |  Honors Student Achievements, Uncategorized

Laura Acuff Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

by   |  05.06.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

2011 Honors graduate Laura Acuff has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship.  She will be teaching in Bulgaria next year.  Congratulations Laura!

Blaine Smith uses Grant for Biology Research Project

by   |  05.06.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

Follow the link below to hear Blaine explain his project:

Research Podcast – Spring 2011

Katherine Sinclair uses Editing Skills to assist Professor with New Book

by   |  05.06.11  |  Honors Student Achievements

Katherine Sinclair received an Honors College research grant.  Follow the link below to hear Katherine describe how she worked with Dr. Jason Morris on his book assisting Chinese students in applying for scholarships.

Sinclair_Research Grant Podcast