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  • Patricks People - Cultured Students

  • Ali Blanchard and Tyler Egbert, both of McCune, have gone a long way since kindergarten.

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  • Ali Blanchard and Tyler Egbert, both of McCune, have gone a long way since kindergarten.
    Now Pittsburg State University third-year seniors and pre-med majors, they spent the summer in Peru.
    Blanchard said that she was looking for a summer study abroad opportunity in medicine, while Egbert, who carries a dual pre-med/Spanish major, wanted something in Spanish.
    “Tyler found ECELA on line,” she said. “It had Spanish, it had medicine, it was in the summer. It was perfect.”
    The two left June 27 and returned home Aug. 14. In between they were in Cuzco, Peru, where they lived with a host family.
    Blanchard suffered from culture shock at first.
    “I didn’t know any Spanish before I went,” she said. “I was so overwhelmed. We’d been told that Cuzco is very tourist oriented and you can always find somebody who speaks English. No, you can’t. I wanted to turn around and go home, but Ty helped me keep my sanity.”
    Egbert said that she learned a lot in just a few weeks.
    “By the end of the trip Ali could understand most of what’s said,” he said.
    “By the end of the trip, I could get into a taxi and talk to the driver,” she said.
    Blanchard also helped Egbert, who had some trouble figuring out where he was and how to get where he wanted to go.
    “Ali had to help me get around places,” he said.
    Where they went included daily Spanish classes and medically-related events three times a week.
    “We went to school four hours a day, five days a week,” Blanchard said. “We shadowed doctors in clinics and hospitals, and had some hands-on experiences.”
    Egbert said that they both shadowed doctors in gynecology, general medicine and pediatric departments and an emergency room. They also volunteered at clinics around Cuzco, helping children with disabilities and pediatric patients.
    The two said they saw a lot of poverty in Cuzco, and conditions at public clinics and hospitals did not meet U.S. standards.
    “I felt like we had stepped a few centuries,” Blanchard said. “In a phlebotomy lab I visited they took blood, did not cover the top of the test tube and put it by some fecal samples.”
    On another occasion, Egbert said, an accident victim was brought in for treatment.
    “He was very dirty, but they didn’t clean him up, they just started an IV,” he said.
    Blanchard said that there is a shortage of doctors in Peru and pre-med students are called to do a lot of procedures that are normally done by physicians in the United States.
    “They couldn’t understand why we hadn’t had all that experience,” she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - “Once I walked outside wearing a white lab coat and a woman thought I was a doctor and asked me to look at her mother who had just had a stroke,” Egbert said. “She couldn’t see and was disoriented, and all I could do was tell the woman to get her mother to a hospital.”
    On a lighter note, the two were able to take field trips in their spare time, including one to Lake Titicaca near the border of Peru and Bolivia, where they stayed with another host family and attended a festival dressed in native costumes.
    They were very impressed with Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca ruin high in the mountains.
    “We got there in time to see the sunrise, and it was breathtaking,” Blanchard said.
    “It was the coolest place I’ve ever been,” Egbert added.
    That weekend trip also included biking in the mountains and zip lining over the longest zip line in South America. Blanchard also enjoyed bungee jumping, but Egbert opted out.
    “It was too much for me,” he said.
    Egbert plans on becoming a doctor, though he hasn’t decided what kind.
    “I’ve always been interested in traveling, so I might do mission work,” he said.
    Blanchard also plans to become a doctor, and would like to incorporate elements of alternative medicine with modern medicine.
    “I believe in balance,” she said. “I was really interested in old Incan medicines and herbs. I’m also interested in animal therapy, using horseback riding to help kids. My mother worked for an equine therapy ranch.”
    Blanchard also wants to continue developing in new skill in Spanish.
    They both appreciate the encouragement and support of family and friends, of PSU International Programs and Services.
    “At what other point in your life are you going to have the opportunity to travel abroad and study at the same time?” Egbert said. “I highly recommend that students check in the PSU Study Abroad office and see what programs are available in their majors.”

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