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A new service opportunity is coming to the University. Sophomore Vinny Eaton has been working with the international medical outreach organization, Volunteers Around the World, to establish a Villanova chapter.

The program will cumulate in an annual 15-day service trip to provide medical relief to impoverished countries. In May, the Villanova chapter will be taking its first trip to Guatemala.

VAW also hosts trips to other countries that the Villanova chapter could visit in the future.  As of now, VAW has locations in Panama and the Dominican Republic but is looking to expand to even more locations. Eaton says that the trip is a wonderful experience, especially for students looking to go into the medical field.

“Students can gain a lot from a service trip like this,” Eaton explains. He has been on service trips both within the U.S. and in Jamaica.  “You learn a lot about yourself, about the people you’re with and about poverty in general. You learn how to make a difference in other people’s lives by doing little things.”

After a fantastic experience on a Villanova service trip to Jamaica this October, Eaton says he knew he wanted to do more. Experiencing how severe poverty can be was extremely moving, and he wanted to give the Villanova community more opportunities to make a difference.

Based on his service experience, Eaton affirms that there is a great need for aid in impoverished countries where the people in poverty do not have access to the help or opportunities they deserve.

What makes this trip unique? Volunteers will be working directly in hospitals in underprivileged parts of Guatemala. The program is aimed at giving volunteers a variety of experiences in the medical field, including shadowing doctors, taking vitals and providing medical aid to locals.

Students will also have the opportunity to complete public health projects, which help improve the overall health of the area. These projects include building clean water reservoirs and providing water filters and medication. Furthermore, volunteers will teach health workshops for the public on topics such as nutrition and dental care.

Besides the service component, volunteers will also get to explore the beautiful San Pedro La Laguna area of Guatemala. As well as clinic days and health class days, the group will get days off, during which they can tour the area, pick from a variety of activities or just take time to relax.

Available activities include learning about local Mayan culture and trips to Mayan ruins, as well as canopy tours, rock climbing, horsebading, hiking an active volcano and activities on the beautiful Lake Atitlán such as canoeing or spending time at the beach. Volunteers will fully experience Mayan culture, but knowledge of Spanish is not required as there will be translators.

The cost for the trip is $1,550 and includes in-country transportation, food, lodging and leisure days. Travelers will be responsible for the cost of plane tickets, but Eaton is planning plenty of fundraising with the club, which could potentially lower the cost by a substantial amount.

This trip is available to students of all majors. However, the trip is particularly recommended for pre-med students, since these service trips present a great opportunity to gain experience in their future work field.

Besides the many personal benefits of this trip, it can be very beneficial professionally for students by allowing them to get hands on experience in the field as well as boosting their confidence.

The trip would be an impressive addition to any resume and Eaton points out that a recommendation letter from a trip leader could make a big difference in the job hunt.

As a new club, it is also important to note that there are leadership positions available. Eaton is looking for a co-president as well as committee chairs and a treasurer.

Committee chairs include the clinical committee, education committee, public health committee and Spanish education chair. A leadership position with Villanova VAW is a great opportunity for an incredible experience and the chance to make a real difference in the world.

VAW will certainly be a welcome additionto the Villanova community. Eaton emphasizes that experiences like this service trip give people more perspective on the world. He is most excited that the volunteer work done through this program is hands on and makes a real difference in the lives of the people being served.

By providing medical aid, water filters, medicine, health education and supporting people in need,  the trip truly is going to make a difference.

It is exciting to add Volunteers around the World to the list of organizations on the Villanova campus that is making the world a better place. This trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and will have invaluable benefits for everyone involved.

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