Helping Native American Youth during Spring Break
Besides the rigor of their course work, first-year medical students Lis Pordes and Nidhya Navanandan wanted to find a way to continue service to the community. It was essential for them to find a project that would serve the needs of a population within their own country. So they planned and raised funds for a trip to the Cheyenne River Lakota Sioux Reservation in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, during spring break.
Northwestern medical students serve as role models.
Their focus, Pordes says, â€œwas to help the disadvantaged with health disparities.â€� Once on the reservation, they, along with 13 other medical students, divided their time between the youth center, a rural health clinic, and a nearby hospital.
â€œEven though the community was very welcoming,â€� Pordes says, â€œit is hard for an outsider to instill change. We saw that change needed to come from within.â€� Therefore, the primary role of the volunteers became one of instructing the youth on the importance of education.
Already, a trip to the reservation in spring 2008 has been organized. â€œWe want this program to continue and grow,â€� Navanandan says. â€œEventually, we hope this experience will be offered all four years.â€�