Costa Rica

Hassna Khadour, Costa Rica, VIDA Pre-vet trip

I went to Costa Rica with 26 other University of Illinois students, and two supervisors! We had so much fun, we learned so much in the 6 clinic days we had. We all worked as a team, and helped build each other up, and made some strong friendships doing so. Most importantly, we went to get a look into our future as most of the students are animal science, pre-vet majors. We learned how to give dogs and cats full physical exams, give them pre-surgery medications, give them after surgery medications, how to give injections and so much more! I absolutely loved clinic days, and learned so much in my trip. Also, all the people of Costa Rica were so kind and inviting. I hope to be able to go to Costa Rica again, it was a beautiful country! This experience was so worth it, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to be a veterinarian.

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VIDA Costa Rica Study Abroad

Costa Rica is such a beautiful country! I had so much fun with the students, supervisors, and especially the veterinarians there. Everyone was so welcoming and nice, it was amazing! During my week and a half stay, my team of 26 students spayed and neutered 106 cats/dogs, and had 56 consultations! We were always on our feet working and learning! It was an amazing experience, and I would love to do it again. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering going to veterinary school. My time in Costa Rica was so special, I made so many new friends, and had so much fun! My team worked so hard in the clinics, and after clinic days it was nice to relax and meet new people. I’m very grateful for this experience as it has made me even more passionate about becoming a veterinarian!

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Sakhulwazi Women’s Hub- Cape Town, South Africa

The Sakhulwazi Women’s Hub is a volunteer site where six of us work. The Sakhulwazi Hub is not only a community garden, but a community center for people in Phillipi to use. They have a place for people to meet, a picnic area, and sewing and beading classes, along with the garden. Mama Rose created the vision of helping out the community in her township by creating this hub! It is called a women’s hub and after being in the hub I can tell why it is called that because mainly women come to garden, sew, or bead. The sewing room and beading room are mainly used to help women in the community earn a living and a skill. Mama Rose teaches women how to sew and they are allowed to keep one item they make to sell and the other items go to the hub. Mama Rose also knows many people who work in the sewing industry, so after women learn how to sew Mama Rose will recommend them for a job. Mama Rose receives all of her fabric from local sewing companies who will give her their scraps or leftovers. The beading is very similar to the sewing. They bead beautiful jewelry and then sell it to people. Mama Rose and this garden not only provide healthy food, but chances at a job and a second family within this garden.

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My Experience in Cape Town, South Africa

Ubunta is a Xhosa word literally meaning I am because we are. I am because we are is a phrase I have never heard in my life, but I phrase I saw and heard often in South Africa. On my last day in Cape Town, I saw a sign that read “Ubunta: Xhosa for human kindness” and it hit me how often I saw human kindness on a daily basis. Reflecting on my 17 days in South Africa, the kindness of the people there is what I enjoyed the most. The kindness of people I came in contact with everyday made this breathtakingly, beautiful country more beautiful to me. I felt at home here simply because of the people I was surrounded by.

Sedick was a man that lived by this Xhosa word without even knowing it. The first time I spoke to him he told me he only had a cat, and was a guest in his own house. I asked him what he meant by this and he said he let a young couple whose families did not approve of their marriage move into his house, and he lives in his guest house because they needed a cheap place to live. The cat is the couples, but he now takes care of it he says. I was introduced to his family and “daughters” at the carnival on New Years Day. The girls I met who call him dad and he calls daughters are not really his. They stay at his house when they need a place to stay: he feeds them, buys them school supplies, and has been their Santa Clause since forever he said. Throughout the days there I was able to talk to Sedick and get to know him, and he was always looking out for me. He was a proud man that was so loved and loved so many people in return. Leaving Cape Town, one of my hardest goodbyes was to him, but I am grateful I was able to meet a man who lives so deeply by this Xhosa word.

Mama Rose, is the creator of Sahkluwzi Women’s Hub. Mama Rose created this women’s hub to give women in the Phillipi township a chance at a good life. She provided them with a place to get cheap fresh veggies and a place to learn a trade. She expected nothing in return from these women. Mama Rose talked with me often and her goal in this women’s hub was to help better the life of women in the poor townships in Cape Town. She was the way she was because she wanted not a better life for herself, but for all women to experience the life they deserve.

This trip was an experience of a lifetime, and though the views were beautiful and the weather was amazing; the thing I will take with me forever from this trip is the relationships I made while there. Mama Rose and Sedick are just two examples of the people I met who showed human kindness to me, if I wanted to write about all the people who showed me love or compassion I would need about 40 more pages. Ubunta is a way of life, and something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.dsc00725

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VIDA Costa Rica – Pre-Vet Trip 2017 Part II

In this post, I want to talk about our recreation days. During our 3 recreation days, we were able to see a lot of different things. The first recreation day, we went to the beach. This was a cool experience because we got to go snorkeling and hang out in the water and sand for a whole day. It was nice to get away from clinics for a day and go see more of the county. The weather was perfect, being in the 70s pretty much every day. On our second recreation day, we went zip lining through the jungle. This was an incredible experience. We rode to the top of a mountain and then zip-lined all the way back down. There was some amazing sights as we were coming back down. On the last free day, we went to some tourist locations where we learned about the history of the ox cart and had opportunities to buy souvenirs. The entire trip was such a great experience and I would recommend everyone to go. I met so many good people on the trip, both from the University of Illinois and locals. Some of these people I still talk to and consider some of my closest friends. This trip is a great opportunity to figure out exactly what you want you want to do with your career. It helped me a lot with my considerations.

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VIDA Costa Rica – Pre-Vet Trip 2017 Part I

I had the opportunity to go on the study abroad trip to Costa Rica for ANSC 398 credit. This trip allowed us to receive 2 credit hours with of 398 credit. I went on the trip during the winter break between the fall 2016 semester and the spring 2017 semester. On the trip we had 6 clinic days and 3 recreation days. In this post, I will tell you about the clinic days. It was an awesome experience for me, as I am trying to become a veterinarian. During our clinic days, we would start at 8 am. We changed locations after 2 clinic days, so we were setting up the clinic in various locations constantly. The hands on experience was awesome because we never really get to do that type of thing in the US. The doctors were so patient with us and I could actually tell that they wanted us to learn and know what was going on. I learned so much about veterinary medicine from the vets. We had a case study as well where we learned more about the procedures and some of the odd cases that we had dealt with. Everything about the Veterinary part of this trip was perfect. I wouldn’t change anything about that part of the trip.

#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad #imagineaces

Jacob Wessels

 

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Atlast or Atlas? Morocco Winter Tour

The Atlas Mountains determined a turning point in our trip. A point of endurance self discovery. The point where anything south of the Atlas Mountains becomes the Sahara. A point where the cool sand sucks all the heat from the soles of your feet. A point where camels replace cars. A point where the only thing holding you back is your ego. The only thing bigger than that though, is the Sahara. The orange ripples of within the Dunes shine like diamonds, blinking their eyes back at you. A point where the only thing you can count on, just maybe, is the sun rising.

Dear Morocco, what should I wear today? I can’t decide if I either love or hate your fickle weather patterns. Maybe tomorrow I’ll decide. Maybe tomorrow Ill brush my hair, like how the dessert brushes off its footprints and tracks. With a gentle push from the wind, the sand dunes rewind.

Dear Morocco, I know it doesn’t seem like I enjoy the sand or chilly mornings, but I’ll never forget the effortless sun grazing upon its horizons. Or the coals and wood igniting their embers just to warm a few nearby bodies. I’ll bring back something more than Moroccan rugs and leather bags. Something more than camel dolls and necklaces, more than argon oil and green mint tea. I’ll bring back the night we spent in the dunes of Merzouga. The shivering night, I laid awake to the rising sun. I’ll bring back the smiles, the laughter and many braids that left my hair, the hotel pools that are always ice cold. I’ll bring back the hundreds of oranges I peeled. I’ll bring back an experience, a stepping stone on my journey, constantly continuing. I’ll bring back the chants, and chorus of masks calling to prayer. I’ll bring back a landscape drenched with date palms.  I’ll bring back the convoluted pulchritude within the tiny detailed tile work.  I’ll bring back all the hot tagine dishes that steamed over our hungry faces. I’ll bring back the timeless waterfall of Oozed. I’ll bring back all the small markets that make a community.

I’d like to think you’d be inspired by the food, aroma and delicate traditions that they hold dear to their heart, the steamy smoke that corrals within the market place. To many this place is home. We are no longer tourists, passing through we are welcomed as if we blended into the indigenous market. The sun gently glistens  past, the overhead tapestries laced, between two adjacent buildinds, shining the faces of the crowded market goes. The ephemeral market growers press against the wall to make room for the donkey to pass by, freezing to watch the donkey pass by in slow motion. The nearby the donkey brays, sweats and blends into the market. How many times have you been down this street? Am I the only one who wonders what the view would be from the perspective of a donkey or mule? Carting Nuts, snacks, knickknacks and decadent fruits that blossom in the Moroccan winters, for tourists and children whose eyes widen as the cart passes by. Immediately the crowd files the gap, almost as if nothing had happened. Everyone here is on a mission, knowing exactly what they came for. Debating leads to bargaining, barraging leads to trade. If there’s anything you can imagine you can find it here.

Dear Morocco, I’ll always miss you.

#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad #imagineaces

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