Miami Sports Day

UM NOTEBOOK: Brunworth and Marwede Are Committed to Service

Photo courtesy of Hannah Marwede.

By Amanda Hequin –  CORAL GABLES, Fla. – One trip. One goal.

During spring break of 2017, Jamie Brunworth and Hannah Marwede of the University of Miami soccer team embarked on a life-changing volunteer trip to Cusco, Peru.

Brunworth is a sophomore midfielder from Littleton, Colo., on a pre-med track, majoring in biology while minoring in chemistry, Spanish and psychology. Marwede, also on a pre-med track, is a freshman defender from Lake Forest, Ill., majoring in bio-chem with minors in chemistry and psychology.

Both Brunworth and Marwede are dedicated members of their community. They are each part of MedLife, a chapter of an organization on campus that centers its efforts on providing access to quality healthcare to low-income communities. On their trip to Cusco, they reached impoverished communities through medicine, education and community development.

“I want to go on more service trips,” Brunworth said. “This one not only helped me learn so much about medicine, but also helped me practice Spanish and gave me the opportunity to help so many people who are in need.”

MedLife not only focuses on worldwide crises but also on local neighborhoods. Chapters of the organization, which are spread throughout the United States and across various college campuses, provide services to their communities.

During spring break, members of the club take trips to low-income areas, based mostly in Latin America. This year, 20 UM students had the privilege of volunteering in villages in the city of Cusco that face poverty and inaccessibility to medical care.

Alongside a team of doctors, these students committed their time, resources and knowledge in hopes of providing medicine, education, community development and an overall healthier way of life.

In the first few hours of their time in Cusco, Brunworth and Marwede, along with their peers, were taken around the city to witness the real-life medical situations of its inhabitants.

“The biggest problem in impoverished communities in Cusco is that its people and families are not close enough to medicine and proper healthcare,” Brunworth said. “I had never really thought about the healthcare crises that other countries have and one of the biggest things I learned is that educating those communities about their options and medicine is very important.”

The MedLife group was in charge of providing mobile clinics for those communities. Student volunteers traveled across stations with doctors who specialized in obstetrics, gynecology, dentistry, pharmaceuticals and general medicine.

The group of volunteers was able to experience different healthcare fields and work hands-on with physicians and their patients. The language barrier proved small to Brunworth, who said that the trip also helped her practice her Spanish.

“While the doctors spoke to their patients in Spanish,” Brunworth said, “I heard what they had to say and built my personal diagnosis, which I would then share with the doctor.”

She shared how the doctor would then go on to explain to them what the precise diagnosis was, which not only helped her learn more Spanish and so much about the field of medicine, but taught her even more about healthcare and the importance of providing help to communities in need.

Apart from offering hands-on healthcare and medical treatments, MedLife also focuses on educating communities to try to prevent problems instead of just treating them. During this session, volunteers had the opportunity of teaching children how to brush their teeth, which Marwede recalled as being the most memorable station.

“We always say we want to become doctors and help others,” Marwede said, “but this trip inspired me and showed me that people need help. Some people don’t even have basic needs, but I am inspired to become a doctor and aid those in need.”

The Miami teammates were also able to play soccer, tag and hide-and-seek with what Marwede called “the most loving children.”

The last element of MedLife emphasizes community development. Student-volunteers were able to fix and restore houses by painting the walls, fixing floors and removing dirt and smells. Once the houses were repaired, the community held a celebration for the volunteers.

“The community was so thankful and we were so thankful to be able to help,” Marwede said.

Brunworth and Marwede were extremely impacted by this experience and look forward to helping more communities in need. They plan to take full advantage of available opportunities to do so in their local community, as well as future trips to other countries.

Now, Brunworth and Marwede are even more inspired to continue their path through medicine and MedLife, and hope to participate in more transformative experiences like this one.

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