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stamos muy felices de
verte! (We are so happy
to see you!) was the
familiar greeting six
Middlesex students and two faculty
members received daily during their
recent 10-day trip to a remote Peruvian
city and its adjoining villages. The
healthcare students and faculty
traveled to Peru in June to provide
health services to the citizens of
Cascas, a small city of 5,000 people
deep in the Peruvian mountains, a
three-hour drive from the larger city of
This is the first year MCC's
International Fellowship Program,
supported by the Middlesex
Community College Foundation,
expanded to Peru. As part of this
international Service-Learning project,
the students spent 15 hours doing
coursework at Middlesex, studying
Peru's history and culture, before
leaving on the trip. The group
provided services to some of the
poorest of the poor living in Peru by
participating in health assessments,
and providing education about diet,
hygiene, nutrition and general health
concerns to individuals of all ages.
The project was the idea of Juliana
Wells, a recent graduate of MCC's
Nursing Program, who is originally
from Cascas. She wanted to bring
medical help to the city where she was
born, and was a tremendous resource in
making arrangements. Wells was there
in Peru when the group arrived and
worked with them to make her
"lifelong dream" come true.
Making the trek were MCC students
Kylie Fulton, Ellen Faller, Erika
Gingrass, Melissa Lord, Maureen
McCartney and Kristina Watt, under
the supervision of Nursing Professor
Tina Cormio and Claudia Guillen,
Coordinator of MCC's Medical
Assisting Program. Five of the students
are nursing majors, and one is a
diagnostic medical sonography major.
Guillen, whose husband is Peruvian,
speaks Spanish and has been to the
country several times.
To get to Cascas, the group flew to
Lima, then to Trujillo. From Trujillo,
they took a bus to Cascas, where they
stayed in a fairly modern hotel where
water and electricity were usually but
not always available. To get to the
mountain villages from Cascas, they
often walked, but were also lucky to
have a volunteer driver from the
mayor's office take them some of the
time. The students worked extensively
with Rosita, a local "go to" person for
health issues who helps the villagers
with nonconventional medicine, even
though she is not a trained nurse.
The MCC students had the
opportunity to share their perspectives
and gain an understanding of the
Peruvian philosophy of nursing and
health care through time spent at the
University of Trujillo. They visited the
hospital there and connected with
local nursing students, who joined
them on the trip to Cascas. The
Middlesex group was even featured on
the local TV station.
"There are no hospitals or doctors in
the city of Cascas, and often basic
services are nonexistent or not
working," said Cormio. "There is a
hospital in Trujillo, but people have no
access to it, since most do not own
cars. The hospital in Trujillo is very
old, and has no screens on the windows
and uses a lot of older equipment."
Cascas is an incredibly
beautiful place with rugged
roads, breathtaking scenery,
and fascinating ruins,
but it was the people who
impressed us. That there
could be so much happiness
within such poverty was
inspiring. The kids were
especially amazing.
Everyone appreciated
whatever we did.
Tina Cormio
MCC Nursing Professor
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