In June of 2022, students from the Global Health Initiative class from Wabash College in Indiana, USA alongside the director from the GHI-Peru organization Dr. Eric J Wetzel, PhD went on an immersion trip, as part of the Exchange & Experience (E & E) in Community Health program, in order to learn about the public health situation in Peru as well as learn about the activities and programs that the GHI-Peru organization does.
Within the activities of this immersion trip, which caused a great impact in the students, were the workshops of “Creciendo Juntos” (Growing Together) an intervention and education program on health prevention topics and values directed at kids in between the ages of 6 and 13 in the regions of Pamplona Alta in the city of Lima and Andabamba in the city of Huánuco.
With this experience and our commitment to be a platform of educational experience, of service, and of intervention for the students of Wabash College we have gathered four of the sixteen students that formed part of this immersion trip so they can tell us the impact that the Growing Together program had on them.
What activities did you do with the kids in the Growing Together program?
Will and Francisco recount how they led a workshop on the importance of having a first aid kit at home as well as creating a learning environment which allowed the kids to develop an interest in another language which led to a brief lesson on basic English words and phrases. It was a fun morning in which educational games were the main strategy in the educational experience.
Michael led a presentation on the importance of personal hygiene for the kids; and then alongside Mitchell created a daily healthy routine with each child that included activities such as: teeth brushing, hand washing, physical fitness, and healthy eating habits. At the end of the workshop, the children shared what they had learned that day.
What did you like the most about the program?
Mitchell: “What I enjoyed most about spending time with these kids was the energy and enthusiasm they brought to learning about health, these kids were excited to learn.”
Mitchell enjoyed sharing with the kids. It surprised him to hear the kids’ knowledge on health topics at such a young age and about everything they’ve learned in the workshops. He congratulates the staff and volunteers of the program for their great work and efforts with the kids.
Will: “What I liked most were the important life lessons that the children learned through this program…the various lessons that the children are taught in this program are important because they allow the children to conduct healthy lives.”
Will comments that he liked many of the aspects of the program, among them the positive learning environment created as well as the happiness, enthusiasm, and drive to learn observed from the kids. He was surprised to see the comradery in the classroom as well as the fun they have as they’re learning. He enjoyed talking with the kids since they were curious and interested in knowing more about him.
Michael: “I loved getting to spend time with some of the kids who were so appreciative of the work that Creciendo Juntos was doing.”
Michael tells us that what he enjoyed the most was meeting the kids and learning more about their daily lives. He was surprised by how much the kids have learned in this program, how smart they are, and how easily they were able to communicate their ideas in an effective manner given that there was a language barrier.
Francisco: “they made me feel like I belonged and I will always be grateful to these kids for that feeling. It’s hard to forget a group of young individuals that have a big strive to learn, are friendly, have aspirations, and dreams.”
Francisco was infected with the enthusiasm that the kids have for learning, he commented that he had never met a group of kids that were so friendly, asked a lot of questions, and made connections to past lessons. He enjoyed this experience and will never forget it.
What is your final reflection about your experience with the Growing Together program?
Mitchell: “…it was a great experience and showed us why education is such a key part of global health efforts.”
Mitchell congratulates the program because it is teaching the kids to adopt healthy habits that will serve them for the rest of their lives. He also mentions that we are preparing kids to be leaders in their communities, because they are taking what they have learned home and are teaching it to other people.
Will: “Creciendo Juntos showed me what is possible when individuals come together to improve their communities through educating others about things that have proved beneficial to their lives.”
Will is grateful for having the opportunity to participate in the program. He praises the incredible work that we do and thinks of continuing the mission of educating kids to value their health, practice preventative health habits, and develop their abilities.
Michael: “The fact that many of these children walk great distances to get to their classroom sessions shows that these kids buy into what the program aims to teach.”
Michael’s experience was incredible and consistent with what has been said, that the kids from the Growing Together program are doing great actions to better the world. He considers the most satisfactory thing from his experience being him watching the kids learn and being grateful to his classmates and the organization.
Francisco: “Their incredible commitment…their aspirations and thirst to learn makes me truly believe that these kids are on their way to do great things and live up to the promise they made me that I would one day meet them again not as my student but as a professional colleague who I’d work with to make the world a better place.”
Francisco highlights the value of an education and the mission of the Growing Together program. He knows that with the education these kids receive they can help themselves, their families, and communities.
The reflections and messages that these students share are of much value to the team, the kids, and the families of this organization. We are very grateful for the participation of all the students from the Wabash College Global Health class of 2022 for participating in the E & E in community health immersion trip. We are especially thankful to Mitchell Keeling, Will Keeling, Francisco Jimenez, and Michael Bertram for being part of this interview and sharing with us and the community their experiences and what they have learned.
We’re sure that we will continue to work as a team and hope that they visit soon.
Let’s keep Growing Together!
Estudiante de Wabash College
Maly Jimenez Lu
Encargada de Comunicaciones GHI Peru