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Jeunesse Grenoble

International Work: 'A Huge Challenge to Do it Right'


(May 27, 2011) The seed of Jeunesse Grenoble’s love for travel could be traced back to a family car trip when she was in sixth grade. The family took off from Durango in an old car with a so-so air-conditioner and, a month later, arrived in Honduras.

“It was a life-changing experience,” she recalls. “Well, as much as a sixth-grader can have a life-changing experience.

 “It definitely took me out of my comfort zone to see how the rest of the world lives.”

Grenoble, 28, a global health care track student who graduated this week from the School of Medicine, has done more traveling since then, once taking six months to journey from the southern tip of Chile to Ecuador with her future husband.

Between her first and second years of medical school, she went to San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala, to help a charity improve its volunteer operations.

The group, San Lucas Mission, helps the residents of the coffee farming region with issues like housing, land use, education and health care. Volunteers come from all over – mainly America – some for short stints of two weeks or less. The group asked Grenoble to look into how to make their time more effective.

She interviewed everyone in the process – nurses, physicians, volunteers - and tagged along with the Mayan nurses as they visited local communities, performing basic health care services and teaching nutrition.

“I went with them when they were showing women how to make tortillas more nutritional,” she said. “You can buy peanuts from the market, and the nurses encouraged the moms to put them in their tortillas to make them healthier. We all made tortillas together.”

She walked away impressed by the commitment of the Mayan nursing team and with a firm idea how to help make the visiting volunteers’ experience more fulfilling.

 “I found that people didn’t come prepared,” she said. For example, some didn’t know much about local Mayan culture, others didn’t speak Spanish.

All health volunteers now receive an orientation document that Grenoble authored. It tells them things like what services the charity performs, what resources are available in the community and how to organize medical supplies.

Her next stop will be the University of Utah, where she’ll begin her residency for Ob/Gyn after a June 4 wedding.

After that, she would consider working abroad, but she’s realistic about her options.

“I would not want to do something short term because I’m not sure that I would be accomplishing anything. I’d love to do more and make a long term stay some place.

 “People like the idea of global health care. It’s really popular and everyone wants to travel and work. It sounds great, but it’s a huge challenge to do it right.”


Read Jeunesse Grenoble’s abstract and orientation document for San Lucas Mission, and visit the mission’s website.