Student Volunteer: Nadya Eddy
School: International School of Bangkok (ISB)
Mission: Ubon Ratchathani province, 2013
This was my first ever medical mission, and my first year being involved in the Operation Smile club. In the beginning my friends and I saw their booth at the club fair and just decided it would be a club for us all to do together. The thing about ISB is it has a host of clubs and opportunities for community service and it seems like every other week is an advocacy week for a different club. It feels like ISB is in a perpetual state of advocating, but you never really directly get to see where the money is going, or what kind of impact the funds are making.
When I first signed up for the mission, at first I was just going to be with my friends and to watch some surgery because I’ve always had an interest in medicine. I expected the trip to go the opposite way that it turned out. I expected to be grossed out by the surgery, I saw myself being unable to connect with the kids and to spend the weekend just like all advocacy clubs, handing things out to people and sitting around. I was extremely wrong. The weekend changed my outlook on life and my personal choices. These kids have been judged upon their entire lives over something they were born with and could not change. After the surgery a lot of opportunities will open up for them such as schooling and an acceptance into society, but the kids will still return to financially unstable families and perhaps an unstable family background. My biggest problem at the time was being grounded. It really made me think about what my priorities were and not to take things for granted. Coming from ISB, we’ve been pretty much shaded and taken care of our whole lives, sometimes ignorant to the things lying outside the Nichada gate and how other people are living.
To see the children the in the days before, waiting for surgery and to then see them go through surgery and then wake up with new pallets or new lips was incredible. I will definitely be going on more medical missions. I am so grateful to have had this experience and know that I could help to give more kids the chance to have the surgery in the future.