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‘Life-changing’ experience for Mia in Mexico

23 Sep 2021
Mia delivering a presentation to her peers about her experience

While many of her peers were having a relaxing summer, aspiring medical professional Mia, a member of Barney’s Upper Sixth, enjoyed a different kind of experience while travelling abroad for the first time in her life.    

In July 2021, Mia travelled to Zapopan, Mexico to volunteer at the Hospital General de Zapopan, which, as it turned out, was a lot more hands-on than she had anticipated.

“I was working 12-hours a day treating patients, supporting surgeries and gained a lot of experience,” explains Mia, who volunteered through Projects Abroad UK.

“It was the first time I have ever travelled alone, abroad and during a global pandemic!”

Mia continued: “Healthcare is a lot different in Mexico than it is here, as there is no NHS, so you have to pay to be treated which not a lot of people can afford.

“Travelling to Mexico was one of only a few options open to me to gain crucial work experience as COVID-19 has affected the opportunities open to young people in the UK. I have always aspired to become a doctor and want to study a Medicine course at university.”

Mia, who is from Wolsingham and joined Barney’s Sixth Form in 2020, studies Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Spanish at A Level. She is also instrumental in the Sixth Form’s MedSoc, especially its offering to Year 9-11 students.  

While an amazing, life-changing experience for Mia, it was equally humbling, given the extreme poverty that plagues parts of Mexico.

“It taught me many lessons and was incredibly humbling,” she explains.

“Poverty in Mexico is quite bad and was visible to see while I was over there. It was also distressing to see people, who could not afford to pay for healthcare, plead for help.”

Witnessing such desperation might have put people off the profession, but, if anything, this has given Mia even more hunger to succeed in this particular career path. 

She said: “I have plans to go to Africa in the future to hopefully work in a hospital there too. I would recommend to any young person interested in a career in medicine to gain as much work experience as possible, even if it means going outside of your comfort zone.

“Last summer’s experience has inspired me even more to continue down this career path and help as many people as I can along the way.”