2017 Winners: A New Pear-spective

Zachary Solomon, Team Leader

Zach was born in Austin where he grew up surrounded by his enormous and slightly crazy 8-person family. In college he studied Spanish and Biology at Tulane University in New Orleans, and spent 8 months living in Argentina and Chile. After college Zach was awarded a grant by the Spanish Government to teach English in Spain, where he stayed for two years. During that time, you could find him fully clothed on the freezing beaches of Galicia, or wandering the city of Madrid in search of good Spanish tortilla. Zach was torn out of his Iberian romance by Baylor College of Medicine, where he struggles to study after spending entirety too much time playing Super Smash Brothers Melee (as Bowser) in the student lounge. After his first year in medical school, Zach went on a Global Health trip to rural Ecuador with Interhealth South America where he ran health brigades and worked on his medical Spanish.

Andres Espinoza, Team Member

Andy was born in the costal city of Lima Peru, eating ceviche there until he was 5 years old. He then moved to Cardiff and London, and finally settled in Troy, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with his undergraduate degree in Biomolecular Science, where he realized his passion for giving back to the community through medicine. Andy is currently a second year medical student at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He spends his time running, watching basketball, microwaving leftovers, and studying for school.

Randall Olmsted, Team Member

Randy Olmsted is a second year medical student originally from Waco, Texas. He majored in “Plan II” at the University of Texas, although he’s still not quite sure what that means. While at UT he was the recipient of the Rowe-Koehl travel grant, which funded 3 months of independent travel through South America. There Randy developed his passion for experiencing new cultures and connecting with others from different communities. Today he still enjoys traveling and is also an avid scuba diver, having logged over 250 dives across the world.

Brian Park, Team Member

Brian was born and raised in the bustling Gangnam district of South Korea – and while he was unable to acquire much of its style, he has made it a point to learn the infamous dance, which he has committed to memory down to a tee. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he learned how to “keep Austin weird” and developed a new-found passion for teaching through several mentoring programs. Brian is now a second-year medical student at the Baylor College of Medicine, where he continues to teach first-years about the oddly-named structures of the human body with his trusty team of “Anatomy Buddies.” While spare time is harder to come by these days, he makes sure to keep up with his musical interests through playing guitar and singing car karaoke on long drives.

Kristin Pascoe, Team Member

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Kristin braved the drive over the Red River to attend undergrad at the University of Oklahoma. When not watching OU football, Kristin spent her time traveling through study abroad programs and medical mission trips. Her experiences abroad eventually led her to the culturally diverse city of Houston to attend Baylor College of Medicine. When she is not hunkered down studying with Diet Coke and Sour Patch Kids, Kristin enjoys trying new restaurants, spending too much money on cheeses from Whole Foods, and looking ever-so-longingly at Facebook posts about adoptable shelter dogs.

Team Essay

Ask anyone studying the English language what they have the most trouble with, and you will likely hear them gripe about the dreaded phrasal verbs. To native speakers, the difference between take after, take up, and take on might not seem very difficult. To a frustrated learner, understanding their nuances and specific uses is often a lifelong pursuit.

Likewise, as medical students, not a week passes where we are not told that being a physician represents a lifelong journey of learning. Normally, this refers to understanding the advances in disease research, surgical innovations and drug discovery. What is arguably more important, but admittedly less emphasized, is learning to understand our patients and relate to them as individuals existing in their unique contexts. In a globalized world where a doctor can see patients from over 10 countries everyday, this task is increasingly important and difficult.

As our introduction helps to illustrate, there is a difference between living in a multicultural world and living among different cultures. To live in a diverse setting is passive, easily achievable and not inherently beneficial. To live among cultures is the opposite; one must interface with new beliefs, customs and idiosyncrasies. It is challenging, requires conscious effort, and has the potential to be uniquely enriching.

Our goal is not to convince you that interacting with diversity is beneficial, but rather to identify why. It is the active in tent to live among that results in adaptations, realizations, and tweaks to our thinking, perspective and behaviour. The exact same growth process can be applied to experiencing medicine in a different form and environment. Some of us are lucky to have participated in global health initiatives, and have witnessed its power to shape our conceptions and interactions with our patients. At the risk of repetition, let us assure you – it is challenging, requires conscious effort, and is uniquely rewarding.

To participate in a global health experience is to learn how to evaluate 50 patients in a dusty, windowless building with nothing but urine dipsticks and pregnancy tests. It is to carry a 70 pound bag of medicine around to each community clinic and personally dispense them. It is to tie an eye-chart to a thatched wall and try a patient’s luck with 200 pairs of donated eyeglasses. It is the hope to share in the elation that the gift of renewed vision evokes.

How do these experiences help you when a refugee from Myanmar, a businessman from Cairo, or a second generation Honduran walks into your office? The benefits we reaped are hard to quantify and deeply individual. Ultimately, it is not our goal to answer this question, but rather to encourage you to find out for yourself. If medicine is a lifelong educational journey, then seeing it practiced in a different form should be a stop along the way. We have a duty to live amongst our global colleagues and strive to use whatever unique lessons we create alongside them to serve patients with passion and dedication.