This July, I was blessed with the opportunity to return to Antigua, Guatemala, on a volunteer audiology trip.
I first went to Antigua as a graduate student in 2010, and was able to visit schools and clinics, perform hearing screenings, and make referrals to appropriate sources for further evaluation. Five years later, I had the opportunity to return and continue this work.
This trip, I was able to visit a local elementary school and perform hearing screenings on the children that teachers had concerns about. Further, I was able to provide batteries, and do cleanings/listening checks on two students’ hearing aids. Later in the week, we were able to visit one of the Universities, and instruct speech and hearing students on audiology basics, and how to perform otoscopy and hearing screenings.
Visiting another country is such an opportunity to learn and experience a different culture. While I was there to provide a service, I definitely feel like I received more from the people there. We are so fortunate to have sound proof booths here, sometimes in other countries hearing screenings are performed in classrooms without doors, noisy hallways, and even in showers! One of the children with hearing aids who I worked with had a broken battery door. I did not have a replacement door with me; however, I was able to make one out of packing tape at the school. A temporary solution at best, however it made the difference between hearing and not hearing.
Amongst all that work, I was able to have some fun too! Antigua is a beautiful city, and I really enjoyed walking the streets and visiting the central park. I got to hike Pacaya, an active volcano, and take a jade workshop at the home of a long-time jade miner. An amazing experience, to say the least.
I look forward to returning again next year, hopefully with more donated supplies, and a larger team of students. I want to thank ENT & Audiology Associates for their generosity in donating batteries and ear plugs, and allowing me to travel during such a busy time of the year. Global audiology is a passion of mine, and I hope to make a difference, one ear at a time.