International Studies & Programs

Being part of a bigger purpose

I left this program feeling fulfilled from having served a community, and much more confident in my surgical skills.

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Published: Friday, 19 Apr 2024 Author: Alexia Mazzarella

Alexia doing surgery in Mexico“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  

This perfectly describes our program in Mazunte, Mexico.

No matter how beautiful all our pictures look, this program was far from a vacation. We all came with one goal in mind: to be a part of a bigger purpose. We had the opportunity to perform 339 surgeries on the dogs and cats of the Mazunte communities. It was truly humbling to be able to see the gratefulness of the community members. Although I could not speak the language, I could read the expressions on all their faces. What an honor it is to be part of something that makes such an impact.
Through each of the challenges that each day would bring, we learned how to work as a team to conquer each day and make it better than the previous day. Although our working conditions were not ideal; the wind blew away our gauze, fleas tried jumping into our surgical sites, injectable anesthesia had patients waking up mid-way through surgery; we learned how little you need to be able to perform surgery.

This program truly taught me so many lessons Group of students holding a Spartan flag in Mexicothat I didn’t even realize I needed to learn.

  • The importance of teamwork.
  • The importance of different types of leadership on each team
  • To stay calm in times of crisis (like dropping pedicles)
  • To stay humble and kind when being challenged.
  • To be grateful for the little things in life that we take for granted every day (like running water and electricity)

I am not sure what I expected this to be like, but it exceeded all my expectations. I left this program feeling fulfilled from having served a community, and much more confident in my surgical skills. We got so much practice everyday building on concepts Group shot of students at sunset in Mexicorepeatedly. Practice truly does make perfect, and this program gave us plenty of opportunities to practice.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to experience this rotation and highly recommend it for anyone who wants to travel abroad, get more comfortable in their surgical skills, or grow as a person. It taught me too many lessons to count, and I will use what I learned on this program for many years as I start on my journey of taking on life after graduation!

Name: Alexia Mazzarella
Status: Graduate
Major: Veterinary Medicine
Hometown: Pittston, Pennsylvania
Program: The Mazunte Project in Mexico