Name: Taylor Spurlock
School: Villanova University
Class year: 2017
When and how did you get involved with YSI?
I became involved with YSI in February of 2015 and travelled to Haiti for the first time with YSI in May of 2015. I heard about YSI through my roommate, Annabel Anderson, who went on a trip in January 2015. After listening to her describe her wonderful experience, I knew that I had to get involved!
Which expeditions have you gone on?
I have gone on two expeditions--one in May 2015 and a second in June 2016.
What is your favorite memory from your trip(s) to Haiti?
My favorite memory from Haiti was definitely the primary care clinic that we held during my second trip. The number of people that we were able to talk to and provide medical care was absolutely astounding. Unfortunately we cannot see everyone, due to such high demand for our services. It was heartbreaking having to turn people away at the door, knowing how desperately they needed medical care, but it made me hopeful for the future of YSI and the continuing relationship that is being built with the community. Part of my job included going to the homes of the people we had scheduled an appointment with to pick them up and escort them back to the compound. Every time I walked into a Lakou (a home) and saw the families eagerly awaiting their walk to the clinic, I was struck by how proud I am of YSI and the work they are doing. I also got to have some fun that day, learning about shortcuts back to the compound from a few of the different people I walked to the clinic for their appointment.
What would you say to somebody who is unsure whether or not YSI is right for them?
If a person were unsure about YSI, I would tell them to take the plunge and go all in--whether that be in the form of a donation or attending an expedition. YSI is unlike any organization I have ever worked with in the past. Their focus on keeping the community and the people they work with at the center of every decision they make is so incredible--an important component of service that a lot of organizations ignore. Doing work for a community means nothing if they do not want the services you are providing, and YSI avoids this common pitfall at all costs. YSI’s promise that all of the work they complete is completely beneficial and desired by the community means that every investment of time or money you put into YSI is being directed toward improving a person’s life. I have met the most incredible people and had the most amazing experiences through YSI, and I encourage everyone to become involved--you will not regret it.
What is your biggest takeaway from the experiences that you have had with YSI?
I have learned countless things about myself, about service, about medicine and public health, and about Haiti through my experiences with YSI. These experiences have altered my entire viewpoint on service and community development. I think the biggest thing I have learned would be the importance of not just medical care, but also education. This is important for not just Haitians, but for people everywhere. Before traveling to Haiti, I never realized the downfalls of diagnosing and prescribing without much explanation. Through working with YSI, I have learned the importance of a holistic healthcare experience, in which the patient’s pains and ailments are not only diagnosed, but he/she is also taught about the causes of their diagnosis, lifestyle changes they can make, what their prescription is, why proper healthcare regimes are important, and how the medication will interact with their body. This is something that I will take with me in all of my future career aspirations.
I also have met the most incredible people through working with YSI. I have made friendships that will stick with me forever, and I have learned more about myself and how I relate to others than I have in any other experience.
All Picture credits go to Alex Hickey!!