Taylor Wrencher ’16, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, participated in a medical volunteer opportunity in Trujillo, Peru, providing community service and working to improve the functional abilities of Peruvian children. In turn, Wrencher found herself gaining inspiration and a new outlook on life.
From December 16, 2015, to January 4, 2016, Wrencher provided aid to children with cerebral palsy by attending medical training classes centered on critical knowledge for rotations in state hospitals, helping with physical therapy sessions for children with cerebral palsy, shadowing and observing clinic consultations and a surgery, administering vaccinations, and observing and assisting with daily activities of psychiatric patients.
Wrencher’s most memorable moment came from providing therapy to one young child in particular, Felix. At the last therapy session, Felix’s mother informed Wrencher that her son very rarely showed facial expressions due to the limitations cause by his cerebral palsy. While caring for Felix, Wrencher was able to make him smile often. “This was the biggest highlight of my trip,” Wrencher said.
Wrencher stayed with a Peruvian host family during her time in Trujillo, which she said helped her feel at home away from home. She learned how to better interact with community members and was able to actively experience the culture first-hand.
Wrencher had several take-aways from her experience, including:
- “Language does not have to be a barrier, if you don’t make it one.
- Do not place too many expectations on the trip and what you want to get out of it because it will influence the way you experience things. If your expectations are too high, you might be disappointed. Enjoy the ride! Allow the experience to shape itself.
- There are going to be cultural differences, but you have to take the time to understand those differences.
- Technology is not always necessary. Interacting with people is more valuable. You will make more long-lasting relationships and your time spent will be more meaningful if you are not reliant on always having technology.”
Because of her experience, Wrencher encouraged every student to take advantage of opportunities abroad.
“You create a special bond with the people you travel with,” Wrencher said.
Wrencher is a double major who will be graduating in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology with a social and economic justice minor. She plans to become a child psychiatrist.
For more information on global opportunities, visit the Center for Global Initiatives website or contact Program Officer Jaclyn Gilstrap at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about additional resources offered to UNC students, contact Native Student Engagement Coordinator Qua Lynch at email@example.com.