Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures (VIDA) is a nonprofit organization that brings health professionals together to learn through service. The organization encourages cultural integration while providing basic medical services to people and animals in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

One VIDA volunteer, Lindsay Moore, told Campus Circle about her experience abroad.

Campus Circle: What country did you volunteer in?
Lindsay Moore: Guatemala.

CC: Did you participate in the medical, dental or veterinary program?
LM: Veterinary.

CC: What college did you attend? What was your major?
LM: University of Minnesota, Animal Science.

CC: What brought you to volunteering with VIDA Student Travel?
LM: I had volunteered with them in Costa Rica before I went to Guatemala. I had heard about the program from my academic adviser.

CC: Can you fill us in about the most challenging part of living in an underdeveloped country?
LM: The most challenging part for me seemed to be the simplest things that I found I was taking advantage of in the United States. These things included taking a hot shower at the end of the day, the size of living quarters and simply not having the comfort of the American food I was so familiar with.

CC: What was your favorite moment while volunteering?
LM: My favorite moment(s) when volunteering is at the end of the day giving an animal back to their family after it has been treated. The families are always so appreciative. I love giving the dogs collars and leashes because it makes the owners so happy.

CC: Can you tell us about the recreational, social activities you got to experience in your country?
LM: We went zip lining, visited several restaurants and toured different cities.

CC: What preparations did you have to make prior to going? Did you learn the native language? Study the culture? Etc.?
LM: Before going to Guatemala, I had taken several years of Spanish in school. I was a little worried because I had taken a few years off. The vets and group leaders that I worked with were so helpful in perfecting my Spanish communication. I was shocked at how much of my Spanish I could use and the confidence my trip gave me.

CC: How did the country’s residents and natives receive you and the other volunteers when you first arrived?
LM: The people were so kind and appreciative; it truly made my trip. I wish I could help them all year round.

CC: Did you make friends or form strong relationships with any of the other volunteers?
LM: On all three VIDA trips I have been on, I have made some long-lasting, strong friendships. Being in such close quarters with people for two weeks really allows you to bond and learn about your travel mates. I actually met one of my roommates on a VIDA trip!

CC: Tell us about the biggest life lesson you took away from working with VIDA?
LM: I have learned to never take advantage of what you have. I live in a life of luxury, and I think I sometimes forget that.  I am always more appreciative for the technology and medical care I have. In addition to this, I am thankful for my living conditions and education.

For more information on VIDA, click here.