After being in the dental field for 7 years, I decided to finally embark on a humanitarian aid trip. I was so lucky to have found Nuevas Sonrisas and to be able to follow through with something that I have been wanting to do forever. I can honestly say that my trip to Santa Catarina Mita was the highlight of my career. From assembling two dental clinics from the ground up in just a few short hours on day one, to laughing and hugging all of the children goodbye on our last day, I couldn’t believe how hardworking and compassionate this team of individuals had proved to be, and I was so glad to be a part of it.
I had the opportunity to volunteer abroad early spring 2016 for a week in Guatemala with the Nuevas Sonrisas Dental mission team. Before this, I had been on 1 previous mission abroad to the Philippines and although I really enjoyed both, this one was my favorite. The organization and genuine care the providers and team members bring shows in the energy and commitment of each member, many who have gone multiple times! What makes this volunteer team unique is that they focus on preventative care by reaching out to children and educating their parents. Also, they go back to the same location every year increasing the health of the community and gaining experience making every year an opportunity to improve! I never felt any sense of danger but rather sincere gratitude and cooperation from the community. As a pre-dental student and dental assistant this experience was one that will stand out for the rest of my life and reinforced my decision to pursue a career that will allow me to volunteer. I not only learned more about pediatric dentistry but realized there is a huge need for volunteers from many fields to make the organization run smoothly. I hope to be able to go again! I strongly recommend this organization to anyone who wants to use their unique talents to give back to an important cause!
During my brief work in Santa Catarina Mita, I was impressed by the beautiful religious spirit and community pride. I was equally struck by the lack of oral health knowledge and practitioners. Being a part of the Nuevas Sonrisas team during my year before dental school was a meaningful experience that also helped immerse me into the diverse field of dentistry. It was difficult, sweaty work to see the shear number of children over the short period of time, but incredibly rewarding. Children were coming back after the team’s visit the previous year with preventative sealants still in place and drastically less decay than the children who had not yet been treated and educated. The community was eager to work with us and incredibly grateful for all the services provided, just as I continue to be grateful for the experiences and working alongside such dedicated, wonderful volunteers.
University of Washington School of Dentistry
Deciding to travel to Guatemala and be a member of this welcoming and loving team has been one of the best decisions of my life. This trip allowed me to see the disparities that many children in impoverished communities have to live with. This trip allowed me to combine my passion of dentistry with my passion for helping kids. Witnessing these disparities first hand will allow me to battle them more efficiently once I am a licensed dental practitioner. I am so fortunate to have been a part of this wonderful team and I highly recommend becoming a member!
University of Portland
President of Pre-Dental Student Association 2014-15
I have always been attracted towards the field of dentistry, but serving the community of Santa Catarina Mita, Guatemala solidified my passion for providing dental care. I was nervous to reach so far out of my comfort zone, but to see the positive impact that I made in every students’ life was an overwhelming and amazing experience. I would highly recommend the trip for any student or volunteer who hopes to pursue dentistry and gain a greater perspective of what it means to serve!