Fall 2010 Issue | By Emily Frandsen
When dietetics student Kate Erickson traveled to Peru last spring, her goal was to teach the people she met about proper nutrition.
Instead, Erickson said, it was the community that taught her. She learned cultural awareness and how to work and live with people who have a very different life than her.
"They have so much to teach us," she said. "It was an eye-opening experience."
Erickson, along with 36 other Idaho State University students and their professors, traveled to southern Peru with Idaho Condor Humanitarian Services, a private, local non-profit organization, in collaboration with ISU's Idaho Condor Humanitarian student club. During the 10-day expedition, the group, led by licensed physicians, dentists and surgeons, provided medical and dental care where access to health care is extremely limited.
Students on the trip were from disciplines from physician assistant studies to foreign languages. The Idaho Condor teams (surgical, medical, dental, and nutrition) performed 26 facial surgeries and saw nearly 2,300 medical patients and 1,300 dental patients.
Erickson led a nutrition team in the first phase of a three-year research project researching nutrition in the region. The team spoke with residents in two Andean villages and gathered information about their diet and nutritional needs.
When they return next year, Erickson and her team will be building greenhouses, supported by a grant her professor, Dr. Bernadette Howlett, received for the project.
Idaho State University's involvement in the Idaho Condor program exemplifies the way students learn best, Howlett said - through working together across disciplines in real-world situations.
"They all learned together because they worked together," she said. "I wish all my teaching could be done that way."
Howlett said she was also proud of the student-initiative she saw through the project.
"The whole reason I became involved was because of Kate," she said. "I became involved with a worldwide humanitarian effort because I had a student who wanted to learn."