Mirra Vogel, a senior at Westfield Area High School, was given the opportunity to attend the “Dominican Republic: Global Health Initiative” program in July after receiving the school  district’s Service Abroad Scholarship. When reflecting on her trip, Vogel said her visit to the Dominican Republic increased her desire to enter the medical field.

Westfield senior visits Dominican Republic with Global Health Initiative

The trip I went on is called, “Dominican Republic: Global Health Initiative.” The description of the trip is, “Provide medical, educational and developmental support to rural Dominican communities-all crucial pieces of the public health puzzle.”

Last January when I applied for the study abroad scholarship through Westfield Area High School, I wrote, “... I am eager to learn new skills, and wish to improve my Spanish-speaking skills and worldly awareness.” When applying, I did not come close to imagining the impact this trip would have on me.

During the trip the time was split into workdays, brigade-days and excursion-days. On excursion days we travelled to Los Morones, Lago Enriquillo, and Bahía de las Águilas. Los Morones was a freshwater stream whose source was high in the mountains, making it extremely cold and clear.

It was a fantastic day cooling off from the heat in turquoise colored water and exploring the nearby trails. Lago Enriquillo is three times saltier than the ocean; we took a boat ride and travelled to a small lagoon area that had a freshwater source, this decreased the salinity of the water enough to allow crocodiles to hatch there. Bahía de las Águilas, “Bay of the Eagles”, is a secluded bay, only accessible by boat. The water was crystal clear and we had fun playing different games in the water and snorkeling.

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