Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fin (for the semester)

November Hours -
KIPP - 4

Total Hours - 38

Somehow it's already the end of November, with Thanksgiving gone and Christmas to look forward to. These 5 months in New Orleans have really flown by; I can't believe I'm 2 weeks away from being halfway done with this masters program! I'm very excited for next semester, as the classes will become more elective focused and hopefully the research I'm doing with my lab group will pick up. I haven't been able to commit as much time as I'd like to the lab because of my erratic course schedule, but next semester should hopefully be easier in that regard. Service hours were light this month, because I've already reached my requirement for two credit hours. At KIPP, we continued to sort through their files, giving teachers time to perform other tasks that are more important.
Thankfully, the brunt of the semester's work is over, with only one exam left until Christmas break. It's incredible how much information we've actually learned in our relatively short time here. While I was home for Thanksgiving, I was able to rattle off the mechanism of action, side effects, and indication of some medications I'd seen my Dad taking. It was a simple but revelatory experience that showed me I'm definitely on the right path to my future. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Digging Holes and Dissections

This month has certainly been a busy one for volunteering. I officially completed my 30 hour requirement, so everything from here on out is solely for my own personal fulfillment. A classmate and I went deep into the swamps of Louisiana to plant trees, restoring the coastline and saving the world from global warming. It was a long and grueling effort; 8 hours under the sun planting hundreds of trees. Tiresome as it was, the work was its own reward, with each trip back to our base revealing fewer and fewer trees to plant. The goal for the day was to plant 650 trees, split among 20 or so volunteers. As fun as it was, I think my next outdoor volunteering excursion will be a little more conventional--habitat for humanity perhaps.

In addition to coastal restoration, I continued my efforts at KIPP this month, helping out with even more photocopies and filing. I was also able to take a trip to one of KIPP's high school and assist with a 9th grade biology dissection lab. The teacher and I walked around the room and answered questions about the various animals splayed open on the table as the students completed worksheets. This was one of the more enjoyable volunteering experiences I've had in my time here, and I look forward to going back and helping out more.

The picture shows the very sweaty and dirty group of volunteers after a day of tree planting. It was fun!

October Hours -
KIPP - 6

Coastal Restoration - 8

Total hours - 34

Friday, September 30, 2016

Photocopies Pt. 2: Electric Boogaloo

Another month gone by in the blink of an eye. A quick trip back home to San Antonio left me recharged and ready to surge forward as we tackle the ANS/CV system. This masters program has provided me with an excellent background in physiology, something I've been sorely missing. It will be an excellent foundation as I move forward into a medical career.

Volunteering this month was a little more sparse, with teacher's holidays at KIPP and long weekends preventing us from attending. I have continued to slog through the hundreds of photocopies required for weekly booklets. Since this has been my task for quite some time, I'll delve a little further into what it entails. Each grade has a new book every week designed to stretch their reading skills. It is an opportunity to read books at a higher reading level than they are used to. There are roughly 100 kids per grade, meaning each book needs to be made into 100 copies, for every week, for every grade. It should not come as a surprise that KIPP goes through almost 70,000 pieces of paper per week. Although trivial, this task takes a great burden off the teachers' backs, no longer requiring them to make the copies.

Here is a picture of me in my new favorite place, the copy room, with all my copies. 

September Hours -
KIPP - 6

Total Hours - 20

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Floods and Photocopies

A month and a half in New Orleans has flown by faster than I could've imagined. Two block exams and 14 hours of volunteering later, I'm writing my first blog post. This M.S. in Pharmacology has been everything I've been craving. It's a chance to prove myself and build a strong background for my (hopefully) future medical career. It's an opportunity to grow as a person and experience an entirely new city, which is particularly rewarding for me because I've lived in San Antonio for the majority of my life.

For my service project, I've settled on KIPP's Leadership Academy, a K-8 school on St. Claude. I'd worked with KIPP during college, so I was eager to continue this relationship. The teachers and staff at the school are busy every waking second of their day, so any help we provide is a godsend to them. Me and 5-6 other classmates spend two hours every Friday afternoon completing whatever jobs they ask of us. We've made bus posters that instruct the little kiddos which bus to get on so they can get home, sorted school supplies to each of the 20 homerooms, and most recently, made thousands of photocopies of books for each class. Every week, each grade reads a new book so they can be exposed to literature above their reading level. Each book is photocopied into 100 copies. There are 20 weeks and 5 grades. It's a lot of copies. Last week, me and three other friends spent 2 hours in a cramped copy room using a lot of paper. We made it through 8 weeks of 1st grade's books. There's still much to be done. Although it seemed menial, teachers were undeniably grateful. Any time they spent not making copies was time spent with their students.

Last weekend a few of us drove to Baton Rouge to volunteer for those affected by the recent floods. We arrived at 9 A.M. and demolished someone's house. This was incredibly heartbreaking, more so than the images of high water and stranded residents. With the water receded, all that was left were destroyed possessions and an uninhabitable home. This sorrow was magnified when you pictured the thousands of people affected by similar circumstances, often without any help at all. It was long and tiresome work, but incredibly rewarding. I plan on going back in the coming weeks because it is not something that is completed in a day, but rather, months.

August Hours -
KIPP - 6
Baton Rouge - 8

Total Hours this semester - 14