The Training Center in Santiago

Saturday, July 28, 2018 Blog by Ronald Carrick, Guatemala

Today we traveled by bus from Guatemala City to the Santiago training center (2hrs) which is owned by Jennifer Hoock, our trip manager from the Guatemala Village Health (GVH) group. Jennifer does not live at the center, she has a local family living at the center which manages it. The center has a main house, which is in continuous improvements, we learned there were new kitchen cupboards placed and a new tile flooring in the last year. A new range stove and refrigerator arrived today at the center during our visit. The center had an example of a functional out-house toilet which is built in the rural villages. There were water purification systems (ECO system), which consists of a ceramic clay pot (clay is mixed with wood shavings and baked, this curing process turns the wood shavings into carbon, then the clay pot is painted with silver) housed by a plastic pale. Water is poured into the clay pot, and purified water is removed from the bottom via a spigot. There is also a carpenter training area too.

At the training center the UW group, the GVH group, and the Guatemalans unpacked the supplies that were transferred from Seattle, WA to Guatemala. The center houses medical supplies which are used during the clinic visits in the rural villages. The travel clinic supplies were stocked and sorted by systems, i.e., GI, Pulmonary, Cardiac by the three groups. This process allowed the groups to become acquainted with one another.

We then set up for a mock clinic which turned into a regular clinic, as locals turned up for medical treatments. The clinic visit started with registration, then vital signs, triage, group charlas, finally to see the doctor and/or pharmacy. It was great to treat the locals, about 43 patients were examined, this allowed a good practice for the planned village clinics. During this training session, I was a triage nurse, a Spanish interpreter was needed to complete the patient assessment, and data was entered into the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and on a papelitos (little papers). The patient moved through the clinic with the help of a runner. During the day’s activities, I learned how important it is to have a system in place to run a clinic efficiently. It takes many hands to prepare for a mobile medical clinic. 

Cameron’s blog

Blog by Cameron Locke, environmental studies, Japan Renewable Energy.

My name is Cameron Locke, and I’m an environmental studies major in my junior year. This program originally piqued my interest because of two words: “Japan” and “Renewable”. I’d heard of this program for well over a year as I did orientations for my job on campus and I finally decided that I would apply.

Mechanical engineering and environmental studies sounds as different as apples and oranges. Yet there I was, hoping to see the environment from a couple new perspectives. The image that many people have of Japan is this amazing, high-tech society, and I was curious as to where Japan stood in their efforts to put renewable energies in place.

Pre-departure travel tips

• Pack light! You only need about 5-7 days’ worth of clothes. You’ll have access to a washer and a dryer while
you’re at the share house (trust me, you’ll want to wash your clothes often).
• A few quality of life suggestions: bring breathable clothes, an umbrella, bug spray and at least 2 pairs of walking shoes

Pre-departure and travel experience
The pre-departure for this study abroad was probably the most worried I have ever been when traveling. I travelled with a couple other classmates, and we were due to arrive in Matsuyama a day earlier than most of the other students in the program. It wasn’t so much the packing and making sure that I didn’t forget anything as much as it was Typhoon Jebi passing over Japan during the days of my flight. I fully expected delays in LAX, but our flight departed as scheduled.

The typhoon seemed to have scared off quite a few passengers because our plane was fairly empty. This allowed passengers who were cramped together to take a different seat of their choosing for the duration of the flight with no extra cost.
Upon our arrival in Matsuyama, we were greeted by one of the Ehime University students who would take us to the share house.


Welcome to my 2018 Japan travel abroad blog

Sept 25, 2018, Blog by Jessica Gray, Mechanical Engineering, Renewable Energy in Japan.

Welcome to my 2018 Japan travel abroad blog.


Name.  Jessica Gray

School.  University of Washington Bothell.  Senior Mechanical Engineering student.

Engineers are trained problem solvers, and thats what I want to do. I want to make a positive contribution to the world.

Me.  i am an artist.  an engineering student.  a soccer player.

I completed an internship with A.I. Solutions/NASA this summer before this course.

Program.  Sustainable Energy in Japan.  This summer consisted of field trips to electric and power companies, power plants, and looking into hydro, solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen fuel cells, and nuclear power.


This course focused on both current and proposed energy solutions–both in the US and Japan. It introduced me to something crucial:  the larger picture.

When looking at realistic energy solutions, the technology itself is important, but the success of a developing technology is heavily dependent upon so much more than that.

Location.  Safety.  Sustainability.  Reliability.  Politics.  History.

These are just some of the topics that influence the power generation industries in vastly different ways depending on where you live, and I got to learn so much about all of these issues.


I will post again soon with pictures from the US field trips, and then from Japan.

Until next time!


English Phrase:  I am Jessica
Japanese Phrase:  Watashi wa Jeshika desu

Anisa Moallem’s blog

Blog by Anisa Moallem


Hello beautiful people,


This is my first time blogging so bare with me as I get the hang of this. This blog will also be posted after I return from my trip because I chose to keep a journal of before and while abroad. 


A little background about myself, my name is Anisa and I am a Health Studies major and minoring in Health Education and Promotion at UWB. Two years ago, I would’ve never imagined myself being a Health Studies major and let along having the opportunity to study abroad. I was finishing my prerequisite for Nursing School when I realized it wasn’t for me but I pushed myself to continue thinking maybe by the end of my prerequisite classes I will be happy with my choice. I completed my Associates Degree and there I was dissatisfied with my accomplishment. I’ve spent two years taking courses for nursing to only find out that’s not what I wanted as a career. I made the decision to take time off to find myself and find what made me happy. I’m glad I made that choice because a year later, I found a major that is the perfect fit for me and allowed me to Study abroad. 


In February, I came across a Study Abroad program about  Race, Health, and Society in Britain taught by an African American professor from UW Seattle. How cool is that? I thought. I have only had one black teacher before and that was in 6th grade. So I was excited to take this course with Dr. Spigner. The only problem was this was 3 days before the deadline. I stared the application right away and minutes later I got an email from the program director notifying me I was applicant number 97 and the program only allowed 30 students, if I were serious about the program to submit my application ASAP. I had to quickly ask two of my professors for letters of recommendation and begin the application process. After I submitted my application I was interviewed by the program director and his TA and weeks later I received my acceptance letter. 


Fast forward to the end of July I had to pack and get ready for the program. That’s when it hit me I’ll be in London for 4 weeks away from my family and friends for the first time. I was excited for the experience of being independent in a foreign country but I was also anxious about what it will be like traveling as a Hijabi. Will customs give me hard time? Will I face problems in London even though it’s very diverse? Were some of my worries. My parents were supportive and assured me this will be an opportunity for growth no mater what happens. They encouraged me to be positive and be myself. 


Now it was time to pack and boy do I wish I listened to Dr. Spigner. One tip that was repeated over and over again during my pre-departure meetings was “packing lightly”. We were advised to do so because when we get to London we would have to take public transportation from the airport to our flats (dorms/apartments). I did exactly the opposite of that and  ended up overpacking, mostly clothes I didn’t even wear once I got to London. So my tip for any future students who plan to study abroad is PACK LESS you can always buy an item or two when you get to your destination if you really need to. 


That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my get to know me/pre-departure. Stay tuned for my next blog about London 🙂

Yousoko Nihon e!

Sept. 4th 2018, Blog by Caleb Schooler.

Hajimashite. Watashi no namae wa Caleb Schooler desu. Washington daigaku gakuesei desu. Yoroshiku oneigaishimasu. Nice to meet you. My name is Caleb Schooler. I’m a student at the University of Washington. I hope we can get along well. This self-introduction that I memorized before my study abroad trip to Tokyo, Japan started has served me well as I try to navigate the vagaries of a culture quite different from my own. Often meetings begin with an exchange of business cards in a highly formalized ritual (although college students are not yet expected to carry them) so it is reasonable to say that first impressions are extremely important in Japanese culture. If that’s the case then Japan itself presents itself in a way most favorable as you travel from the distant international airport of Narita into the heart of Tokyo itself, endless skyscrapers, floods of people, shining lights, delicious food all for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. It is, in a word, overwhelming, especially as a first-time visitor.

 There are also quieter places all around the city.

I was nervous before I left, and even more nervous as I made my way to my initial lodgings because of my limited Japanese skills; I was relying on half-remembered lessons from high school and what I could brush up on before the study abroad program began. I want to say this emphatically for anyone out there reading this and who might hesitate to visit Japan because they are afraid they wouldn’t be able to read any signs or understand anyone; there is a tremendous amount of English on hand in Japan, especially within public transportation (which is extraordinarily safe, reliable, and timely). I’ve never felt like a lack of Japanese skills were holding me back, but I also imagine that with a greater understanding of the language than what is experienced unofficially, outside of the study abroad program itself, would be all the greater. As it has happened for me, I am confident that some of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life have occurred while I am here in Japan.

Practically all signs are rendered bilingually or tri- or with even more languages.

By way of example, this is actually a little bit of an embarrassing story, I lost my mobile wi-fi device (Japan has, surprisingly, pretty spotty public wi-fi) on a train which would mean I would lose access to any reasonably convenient internet access. I wasn’t even sure which train I lost it on, or what train car I was in, but, by pantomiming with a station attendant and using my broken Japanese and his broken English, my mobile wi-fi was returned to me in less than 15 minutes. I thought, at that point, that this is the kind of service that Japan is legendary for. It was an astounding customer service experience, all the greater since I had resigned myself to having to buy a new, very expensive device.

A trip to a baseball game in Japan is one well worth it, even if one isn’t a fan of the game.

Tokyo is, especially, amazing to someone like myself who has never been to a truly massive city before. There is such a tremendous diversity of activities at hand that it is quite impossible to ever be bored. As part of the study abroad program we’ve had the chance to travel to several extraordinary museums, shrines important in the Shinto religion, parks, ancient shopping districts, a baseball game and more. I can say, quite confidently, that this is a trip that is impossible to regret, and it is all the better to receive college credit for it at the same time!


August 2018, Blog by Janis Gaye Jordan.

If you’ve ever tried to create a Tinder profile (or other dating apps), then you would understand my thoughts on an intial profile—er, I mean blog. Do I want you to know I’m funny? That I’m smart? That I’m serious and reserved? Why this trip is the greatest thing for me? How you, too, can feel inspired to travel? …. Let’s just start like all best dates—er, blogs, start, shall we?
With a simple:

Hi there!

My name is Janis—like Janis Joplin. Or, I guess, Janis from Friends. If you ran into me, you’d probably see me exploring Pike Place, drinking coffee, watching dog videos, or nose-deep into some book or, more likely, homework.

I’m big into dim sum, pho, and sushi—like any time of the day. Oh, and French fries. Oh, and Theo Chocolate. But don’t worry about my health—I do enjoy working out and staying fit as much as I can.
I’m a senior at UWB, and currently searching for PhD programs to transfer into. I’m currently in Educational Studies with a minor in Philosophy. I’m also a transfer student, a non-traditional student, and I probably care a little too much about my grades.
I have one cat, a rescue, named Oliver (yes, like Olive and Company and yes, like Oliver Twist).

Anyways, enough about me.

Amsterdam is going to be amazing, without a doubt. You know that “I’m so happy and this is so unbelievable I could cry” feeling? That’s where I’m at.  I’m currently sitting in the airport, waiting to take-off, and it just now hit me that I’m actually going on this trip.
The program is through the UW, specifically the iSchool in Seattle. The goal is to study all of the innovative technologies that Amsterdam utilizes and how it affects the city. We’ll be exploring what makes a museum innovative, what is the relationship between a city and its public informaitons. So basically, we’ll be taking a ton of time to explore a variety of museums, libraries, courthouses, and archives to see what the Netherlands has been doing and how it’s helped.

It’s perfect for my program, because in Educational Studies looks at education reform and what makes students succeed. Perhaps more public knowledge and easier access could help our US education. So that’s something I’ll be personally exploring while examining these sites. How does public information and an approach of innovation help better our education?
Also with my minor, there are many questions that get asked in Philosophy like What makes a better society? This program will examine that, and even though it may not give a direct answer, it will try to show how important public information is while examining the society itself. It’s a very practical approach to a very deep question.

When I came across this trip, it was at my transfer orientation in some winter quarter. I kind of brushed it aside, until the beginning of Spring Quarter when I was casually browsing, and this program popped up a good option for Educational Studies.
(Besides, my favorite books are A Fault in Our Stars by John Green or Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas, which both have the Netherlands as an impacting plot point, if not the central location. Of course, when I saw this program, I couldn’t not want to go )

And honestly, I didn’t think this was something I could ever attain. Between credits, and transfers and all sorts of things-that-just-come-up, I just assumed I was not ready or just not enough to be chosen to study abroad. You know how worry and whatever gets in the way of what you want?

Since I’m graduating in a few months, I figured this would be my last chance to at least try the application process.
I was talking to my boyfriend about this, worries and all, and he encouraged to give it that try, and another one of my friends also encouraged me the day of the deadline, when I was again, toying with the all of the stress about it. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have even applied.

Even after I applied, got accepted, received funding, went to orientation—after all of these confirmations I was STILL really afraid sometime was going to come and ruin this trip, like a hospital visit or an emergency, or just anything. But here I am, at the airport, with only one, 2 hour delay that slightly interfered with my trip.

So, as an encouragement to anyone who LOVES the idea of Study Abroad, but hesitant of whether they should or should not even try, I totally understand how you feel.  It can be scary, and there can be a lot of uncertainties (and as someone who has faced a lot bad outcomes of uncertainties, I really get it). But it doesn’t hurt to take the first step and just try the application. That’s all it took for me, and I’m still in a grateful disbelief that it was all it took. Get help from your friends if you need to, and talk to an advisor, because there are people here who want to see you succeed!

Anyways, I just got called to board, so I better get going!
Until next time, dear friends 😊

Esperanza Village

August 2018, Blog by Lauren Smith.

On this day, we had our first taste of the rural village Esperanza in Guatemala. The bus ride was hot and sweaty, with some staggering and beautiful views of the rainforest. There were huts dispersed throughout the area that were the homes to people of this village. As the bus jolted up and down over large rocks and bumps, I looked out the window and was taken aback by the green, luscious leaves and stocks of corn that engrossed the hillsides. What a beautiful, rugged place to call home. When our bus pulled up to the area we used as our clinic, there were Guatemalan women and children swarmed around the cement building, waiting for our arrival. Our first clinic day, I was assigned to be a runner. I helped make flags for the different stations to help us have some sort of organization within the chaos of the pop-up clinic. However, the disorder that occurred as a result of being in a single, hot room seemed inevitable. I ended up helping out in triage and the pharmacy the most. I enjoyed having multiple job roles since I am used to be a float nurse at work. I love variety in my job. The majority of the people we saw were women who were either pregnant, breast feeding, or almost pregnant. Many of the women and most of the children had a skin rash that they complained to be itchy and painful. I have never seen so many cases of scabies! I was relieved to learn that premetherine, which I had treated all of my clothes with, is also the treatment for scabies, as I was in such close contact with so many of the infected patients. This is also the first time I saw the way women carry their babies in a sheet over their shoulder and on their backs. I can’t imagine the dirty looks a woman would get in the United States if she carried her child this way. The other thing I noticed was all the gold caps and gold fillings that some of the native Guatemalans had, and the decayed and rotted appearing teeth that most of the others had. It was sad to see so many kids with decaying baby teeth. Overall, the day was exhausting but rewarding. This was one of the first times I have seen how happy people can be living such a simple life in poverty –and it seems they are so happy because they don’t seem to have been exposed to other ways of living. I felt a twinge of guilt and shame knowing how privileged I was and how terrible we are to each other and to people with less in the US. On the other hand, I was in awe of how a simple life of having less can lead to such genuine happiness. Another successful learning day in the books for me.

Promises Kept

August 16, 2018, Blog by Rebecca Angelsey, Program: Honors Japan: Construction of Japan Identity- A Comparative Look at National Narrative in Japan and U.S.


I am so excited to be able to participate in a study abroad program while attending UWB! I never thought this experience would be a possibility for me, so it is really a surreal experience. To make everything even more magical, my boyfriend, Dan, has been accepted to the program as well, so we will be able to share this amazing experience together!

I chose this program for a few reasons. First, it was the most practical. It fit into my major, which is Society, Ethics, and Human Behavior. It also was very well timed to allow me to graduate at the end of fall quarter. But the second and more important reason that I chose this program was that I have always had an enduring fascination with Japanese culture.

When I was young my parents volunteered us to be a host home for Japanese homestay international students. For a few weeks every summer we would have a young person from Japan come and stay with us. We would have so much fun learning from them, but also teaching them about our small corner of the world in Western Washington (Hoquiam, specifically). Once we even had a slumber party at our house full of teenage Japanese girls! I had so much fun that when I was 13 my parents sent me to Osaka to participate in a homestay of my own.

It was the first time I had ever been on a plane or traveled without my parents. I was excited and terrified at the same time. I was in Osaka for 10 days and I have never forgotten that experience. My host family was absolutely wonderful and welcoming to me. They had two daughters my age and we went out and had an absolute blast in the way only young girls can. The day before I left, my host family gave me a Tiffany necklace, so I would always remember my time in Japan. I promised that someday I would return.

In four days, I will be fulfilling that promise. It has been over 18 years since I was last in Japan, and I still wear that Tiffany necklace regularly. Every time I put it on, I am filled with memories of learning, laughter, and a friendship that stretched across two cultures to show me how the world outside of my little town could be.

An odd thing happened to me today… I was moving some old boxes into a storage unit we just rented, and I came across some old photos of my host family and me from that trip. Isn’t it strange that they should show up just before I made my second trip to Japan? Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something…

For now, Dan and I are just filled with the excitement and flurry of long-term travel. There is so much to do and take care of! Our cats will be staying with family, so we have been making arrangements to make sure that they will be comfortable somewhere else. Otherwise we are dealing with all the other adventures in preparation: bank notices, packing, planning activities, preparing for coursework, and a million other things I am probably going to forget until we land in Tokyo. And now I should probably get back to it!


Wednesday, August 1st, Blog by Heidi Stecher.

We had an amazing third clinic, seeing about 100 patients. The team worked cohesively and efficiently. We had reset the stations as they were the day before. We saw another village but in the same spot. I was impressed with Lesbia, the health care worker who does all the charlas.  The charlas are different talks such as on gastritis, headache/back pain, colds, and GI viruses. Lesbia saw many people at a time teaching patients about these subjects and how to care for themselves. It is the presence and work of the local trainers, promodores, that make a huge difference in the education and understanding that allow for lifestyle changes to be made. They already have a rapport and built in trust since they are from the villages.  This work is priceless and incredibly meaningful to the people they serve. It is my belief that this is where the focus ought to be when outside organizations come in to serve. It is very brief and has a “band aid” effect when people come and go, but when there is a villager who is the health care worker who can help maintain and continue the education, this is where change can happen.

There were seven of us that decided to walk an hour from the village to where our bus had broken down. We were so impressed with the beautiful landscape and wanted to spend more time in it. Along the side of the road we found a mama pig with her seven piglets, plants with leaves that curl in when touched, and smiling children playing. The time went fast talking with my colleagues learning about where people worked and plans for their future. I think times like this with smaller groups within the large group lends itself to better communication and understanding. It was a walk to remember.





 Tuesday July 31, Blog by Heidi Stecher. 

We took our bus carrying at least 25 people and supplies to Chinachabilchoch.  This is a very remote village straight up a mountain with precarious turns and drop-offs.  But the view from the bus was spectacular, emerald green hills and mountains softened the landscape with its curves. Such tremendous beauty with luscious over growing plants and trees. This came to an abrupt stop after the bus we were traveling in could not move its back tires up a hill. We all plopped out of the bus with half of us taking the truck to start triaging patients while the rest had to hike up the mountain an hour and a half trek.  Thankfully, I was in the truck group, but once we arrived we scurried to put our stations together and formatted lab, vitals, triage, provider, pharmacy and charla (teaching) stations. We saw about 40 people that day.

     The villagers stayed around us, watching inquisitively, smiling.  Some children would burst out laughing, but when catching their eye they would look serious. I noticed the beauty of the people, to intricate fabricates women wore for their skirts with lace-like tops.  Many had babies or children hanging on them.

      That night we played scattergories and had a delicious meal of tamales, beans and rice outdoors in the village’s center. Ron and I debriefed with everyone and reflected on how it has been going so far, what they had learned, what they have been processing on the trip. I think this was a point that brought us closer sharing our thoughts and feelings about our experiences.

    We spent the night up in the village in our sleep sacks under mosquito nets in the school. This was an adventure, from a reclined position we had a hilarious time, spending the first hour in our sleep sacks laughing at and with each other. During the night so many sounds affected our sleep from snoring, to the sound of large pig being slaughtered, to gentle, creeping children’s footsteps on the grass outside the open air window to numerous crickets chirping their song.