Senior Spanish major volunteers at Nicaraguan clinics

March 15, 2010

Fluent in Spanish and certified as an emergency medical technician, Caitlin Rivet ’10 recently spent several weeks in rural regions around Nicaragua translating for doctors and patients, monitoring patients’ vital signs and educating residents about dental hygiene.

“One of the most satisfying experiences was being able to help patients at an eye clinic communicate with the American doctors to help improve their vision,” said Rivet, a 22-year-old Spanish major who hopes to pursue a career as a nurse working with Hispanic populations.

“It’s interesting to be in another country and get to see what their biggest problems are,” she added. “I spent time learning about their medical system, the kinds of prescription drugs they have available.”

In addition to the life experience she will long treasure, Rivet earned college credit for her two-week trip to Nicaragua by enrolling in an Independent Study course.

When students such as Rivet want to explore a subject beyond what is available among the College’s regular course offerings, Independent Study gives them the opportunity for individual study under the direction of a faculty member.

As part of her Independent Study, Rivet is continuing her research for a paper she will submit to her adviser, Amy McNichols, associate professor of Spanish and coordinator of the College’s new Latino and Latin American Studies Program.

Last year, Rivet used Jan Term to earn EMT certification in her hometown of Andover, Mass. To graduate, all students are required to complete at least one Jan Term course, taken during a three-week session that falls between the fall and spring semesters. Jan Term is designed to give students and faculty an opportunity to get beyond the classroom to explore unique educational topics and adventures.

While in Nicaragua, when she wasn’t working at clinic, Rivet also spent time building eco-stoves for families in rural communities – and playing soccer with the neighborhood children.

“That was very exciting,” Rivet said. “The area is more impoverished than other places I have visited. But it still has a very warm and welcoming culture.”

For a glimpse of Rivet’s work in Nicaragua, check out the following photos that she brought back:

Caitlin Rivet, in white T-shirt

Caitlin Rivet, far right

Caitlin Rivet, in white T-shirt