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Biology Student Assists Medical Clinic in Vietnam

by Connie K. Ho | July 18th, 2011

When thoughts of Vietnam come up, rice paddies and houses on sticks usually come to mind. While these are some of the scenes from Vietnam, students who are involved in service learning come to see the other side of things. International service allows students to scope out the local lifestyle, visiting nearby hospitals or centers.

Students who visit new countries are pushed to face their own obstacles. Andy Nguyen dealt with language barriers while in Vietnam with Medical, Education Missions and Outreach (MEMO). MEMO’s two-week trip consists of visiting orphanages, shadowing surgeons, giving out scholarships, and seeing approximately 2,000 patients in free clinics in partnership with the Red Cross. Nguyen, who had not been back to his parents’ home country since he was 13, was fueled by the passion to give back to his homeland. With basic knowledge of Vietnamese, Nguyen was able to communicate with patients who showed their appreciation when he guided them from one area of the medical ward to another.

Nguyen believes that the trip was an influential part in his life and has given him insight on future objectives.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunities given to me and being able to live a good quality life in the United States. But, it is unfortunate that not everyone has the same opportunities as I do. So, I feel like it is a humane act to provide these opportunities to those that need it who would otherwise be suffering or live in unsatisfactory conditions,” remarked Nguyen.

Nguyen believes that continued support is essential to maintain the work that has already been done abroad. He encourages students to discuss and speak about important issues. As well, members of the campus as well as Irvine community can participate in fundraisers or sponsorship.

Photo via Isabelle Daniel

Isabelle Daniel is a Public Health Sciences Major at the University of California, Irvine. She is proud to be a Vietnamese-American citizen and actively participates in the Vietnamese community in Orange County by volunteering at a Saturday Language School and on-campus as president of the Vietnamese Graduation Committee.

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