Name: Theodore Choi
School: Brandeis University
Major: Italian Studies
Class year: Bachelor’s ‘13; Pre-medical Post-baccalaureate ‘16
When and how did you get involved with YSI?
The Postbac program at Brandeis had a mentorship program that paired me with Kevin Lombardi as my mentor. He talked to me about YSI, and I was immediately interested. I went on my first trip after I completed the first year of the Postbac program.
Which expeditions have you gone on?
I [have been] on two expeditions. The first was during May of 2015 and the second, which was very recent, was during June/July of 2016.
What are your future plans with us?
I hope to remain a part of YSI and to see it expand its reach at home and abroad as an organization that has not forgotten its core values of creating sustainability for the community in which it is involved. I also look forward to growing as a teammate and a leader at YSI, leading up to and during the trips to Haiti.
What is your favorite memory from your trips to Haiti?
My favorite memory from my trips to Haiti is a vivid one. Last year, we were walking back from a quick break to the beach when we heard some commotion. As I asked around what happened, I found out that there was a woman beaten by her drunk husband with a rebar. She had multiple bruises, lacerations, and what seemed like fractured bones. We ended up having to carry her across the riverbank and to a pickup truck to transport her to the nearest hospital, while pushing back the crowd that had gathered to bring some loose form of justice to her husband. We were actually able to secure emergency funding for her treatment and saw her a few days later. Seeing the smile on her face, her expressions of gratitude, and her perseverance has been sealed in my memories.
What would you say to somebody who is unsure whether or not YSI is right for them? Whether it means donating, traveling with us, or simply reading more about us.
I would tell them that it is definitely worth it. I would not sacrifice my time for a cause that does not bring about positive change in the community that is tangible or visible. I have seen vast improvements for a lot of the clinic patients and improvements for the vendors that we have supported. The model that YSI follows, fills in major gaps in health education and in healthcare overall in Leogane. The fact that YSI will soon be the only charitable hospital in the area is baffling, yet it makes me hopeful that we can continue to provide care in that area until we are no longer needed in the area because of the impact that has been made.
What is your biggest take away from the experiences that you have had with YSI?
The relationships we build with people help much more than the medicine we provide. Without the trust our organization has established in the neighborhood, YSI’s health education would be meaningless.