Aaron Ganss, a senior philosophy major, traveled to the Dominican Republic on a weeklong service trip as part of a cultural immersion program. Ganss went through the non-profit organization Solid Rock International and SUU’s Rural Health Scholars program, along with a group of other students from SUU, Snow College, USU Eastern-Price, and the University of Utah.
Ganss’ lifelong dream was to explore different parts of the world and experience cultures that differ from his own. This became a reality when he was given the opportunity to experience first-hand a culture vastly different than anything seen in the United States.
“This trip completely changed my outlook on other parts of the world,” said Ganss. “I never could have gotten this kind of experience in a classroom. I can’t wait to go back.”
Ganss travelled to the barrios around the city of San Juan de la Maguana and into the mountain villages near the Haitian border where he helped Dominican nurses gather medications, take blood pressure, and pass out toys to children. When Ganss did not go into the clinics, he was the director of the construction team, where he and other students improved the existing hospital, located in San Juan de la Maguana. He also shadowed a Dominican pastor as they went door-to-door visiting the locals who lived in the surrounding barrios.
With the help of his Spanish classes, Ganss was able to connect and communicate with the local population. “Even though I went to the Dominican Republic to help the Dominican people, they had a far greater impact on me.”
The Rural Health Scholars Program is available at Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, Snow College, and Utah State University-Eastern in Price. Through a partnership with the University of Utah School of Medicine, this program assists students in becoming successful applicants to medical, nursing, podiatry, dental, pharmacy, and other health professions programs. Student applications are strengthened through a regimen of classes, seminars, community service, job shadowing, research and advisement. For more information about the Utah Center for Rural Health programs visit www.suu.edu/ahec.