A group of OTC dental students is finding out first hand what the OTC motto “Start Here, Go Anywhere” really means.
From Feb. 27 through March 7, the students are in Managua, Masachapa, and San Rafael in Nicaragua to work at a community hospital and nearby villages offering dental services to the residents.
A total of 29 people from OTC, including 22 students, made the trip. The students raised the money to make the trip and to buy dental supplies that they will leave with the residents and the hospital.
“It’s huge for young people to do what they did to get there,” said Rebecca Caceres, director of OTC’s dental hygiene program, who is going with the students. “The students assist the doctors with extractions, fillings, fluoride applications and cleanings.”
This is the fourth year a group of OTC dental students have gone to Nicaragua.
Three students making this trip – Chandler Politte, Sara Snyder and Kristina Rykhlya – have never been to the Central American country and were excited about the opportunity.
“I wanted to go last year. I grew up in mission work and was praying to be able to go,” said Chandler, who is from Bismark, Mo.
Sara, who is from Monett, said she wanted to go last year, too, after hearing about everyone’s experiences.
“It will be exciting to see and step outside our bubble,” she said.
Kristina, who lives in Springfield, said other students who have made the trip have told her that she would want to take one of the Nicaraguan children home with her because the youngsters are so happy to see the American students.
“I love working with kids. I grew up in a big family with 11 kids,” she said. “I think this will impact us on a number of different levels. You don’t know how much you appreciate what you have and should be grateful for until you travel outside the country.”
In addition to providing dental care, the students will distribute toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and educational material.
Sara said she looks forward “to being able to serve people less fortunate than me.”
“It’s going to be an awesome experience,” she said. “There are going to be more stories than we can remember while we’re there. I’m taking a journal.”