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Student Testimonials: Patrick McCormick

Patrick McCormick, a State University of New York at Geneseo Junior studying Political Science and Pre-Med, traveled to El Sauce in May 2013. During a two month stay, Pat participated in both the Humanities II and Service Learning programs that Geneseo offers. In reflecting on his experience, Pat came across a journal entry that he had written for the Service Learning class, this one dated June 25, 2013:

My initial game plan of working with the dental health campaign was abruptly altered when the opportunity to work at the clinic with Dra. Sara fell into my lap. I really enjoyed working with her because she took time to explain what problems each patient was having as well as making me write down words I did not know. The four hours I spent there were a great insight into the daily challenges of a general practitioner and she was amazing at keeping me involved despite my limited Spanish. After four hours of continuous patients without any break, I was able to really appreciate the work she does in a community like El Sauce.

Not to be out done, my afternoon was a totally different sort of adventure. Yesterday Luis, my host father, invited me to accompany him to the small community of Sálales to the northeast of El Sauce. He was there to try and solve a water rights issue and was also accompanied by two police officers and three others. One police officer gave a long speech on how the police would fight drugs in the community and asked the people to help as well.

Luis has quite a way of commanding the respect of the people. They were far more attentive and responsive to his speech than that of the police officer or other man that spoke. After talking to the community we marched up toward the nearby mountain to take a look at the water dispute first hand. Apparently there is a man claiming his father gifted him the land where the water gathers, a spot that is no more than 20ft by 10ft, and claims to have the rights to the spring of water. The townspeople badly need the water and the discussion held theirs was lengthy, but rather fruitless in the end. Eventually we left thanking the community, and finally hopped back in the police truck that we road up in.

The resolution of these types of community issues is Luis’s job everyday. He tells me that he must travel to communities in and around El Sauce and try to find solutions to all sorts of problems just like this with the hope of improving the community. I am very impressed with how hard he works and just how much he cares for these communities. He does not get angry or frustrated, yet continues to work everyday at this task. I guess that it is not surprising to me that Silvia loves him dearly and praised him for his enormous heart when he left after dinner; he truly cares about improving the lives of the poor and downtrodden. For my part I gained a whole new perspective on Luis today and much more respect for what he does. Our difficulty communicating has made talking hard at times, but I am honored he invited me to go to Sálales with him. This was an excellent day in El Sauce.

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