ROCK ISLAND, IL (06/18/2010)(readMedia)-- Twenty-two Augustana students will spend two weeks in mid-July administering medical care to impoverished Nicaraguans. The service trip gives students hands-on experience in the medical fields and immerses them in Latin American culture. It is organized through JETS (Joining Education Through Service), a student organization at Augustana. The students will be accompanied by Dr. Darrin Good, professor of biology, and three doctors-two alumni and one the spouse of an alumna.

The students will set up their free medical clinic-usually in a tent or covered pavilion-in six small Nicaraguan towns. The students will work with translators to evaluate patients' symptoms and make a preliminary diagnosis. Before prescribing treatment, they will consult with one of three Nicaraguan doctors or the three American doctors who confirm the students' diagnosis.

From your area, this includes:

Andrew Spyrow, a first year from Bettendorf, Bettendorf majoring in general studies.

Mark Stumphy, a junior from Moline, Moline majoring in general studies.

Good founded the JETS program in 2008 and has since been to Nicaragua three times. He started JETS because he saw the need for an international program that was shorter than traditional programs and would fit the interests of pre-medicine students. He also wanted the program to be a service learning opportunity and to capitalize on Augustana's excellent Spanish department.

"Students on the trip really do begin to understand how truly lucky they are to have been born in a wealthy, developed nation," Good said. "They return with a love of the people of Nicaragua and a sense that impoverished people don't choose to be poor or become poor because they are lazy. They gain an understanding of world poverty and health disparity around the world."

For Brett Anderson, a junior biology and pre-pharmacy major, the trip will be his first time out of the country. "This is the perfect opportunity for me to experience a different culture," he said. "I am looking forward to bringing help to people who really need it."

Augustana students, faculty, and alumni travel to Nicaragua twice a year through the JETS organization. They partner with Global Medical Training (GMT), a non-profit organization that provides medical services to poor communities in Central America. GMT determines where the Augustana clinics are needed and also arranges several tourist experiences that expose students to the history, food, economy and ecology of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, but it is also one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. According to the United Nations 2007-08 human development report, 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day and a large number of households are headed by woman. Quality medical aid is either unavailable or unaffordable to much of the population.

The students leave the United States on July 11 and return on July 23. For more information on the Nicaragua trip, please visit www.augustana.edu/Nicaragua.

For more information, contact Kamy Beattie at kamybeattie@augustana.edu or 309-794-7721.