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Nicaragua: Medical and Dental Brigades Study Abroad
Managua, Nicaragua (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Spring
Program Cost Spring
Fact Sheet:
Academic College: Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Best Fit Majors: Sociology and Anthropology
Language of Instruction: English Program Options: Faculty-Led, Service Learning, Spring Break
Credits Earned: 2 Faculty Leader: Daniel Brewster
Program Description:


Nicaragua: Medical and Dental Brigades Study Abroad

Program dates March 8th - March 18th, 2018
Nicaragua BrigadesGlobal Brigades is the world’s largest student-led global health and sustainable development organization. Since 2004, Global Brigades has mobilized tens of thousands of university students and professionals through skill-based programs that work in partnership with community members to improve quality of life in under resourced regions while respecting local culture. Public Health Brigades is an international network of passionate students and professionals that work together to identify community health threats and implement public health solutions in rural communities. Our mission is to empower rural Honduran, Panamanian and Nicaraguan communities to prevent common illnesses through infrastructural development, community leader training and health education.

Please note: All students must also apply to participate with WVU Global Brigades Student Org before being accepted by OGA.


City: Managua

Country: Nicaragua

Population: 2.223 million

Information: Managua is the capital city of Nicaragua as well as of the department of the same name. It is the largest city in Nicaragua in terms of population and geographic size. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán or Lake Managua, the city was declared the national capital in 1852. Prior to its inception as the capital city, the title had alternated between the cities of León and Granada. The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake and the ensuing years of war in the 1980s severely disrupted and stunted Managua's growth. It was not until the mid-1990s that Managua began to see a resurgence in investment and infrastructural development. The city has a metropolitan population of about 2,408,000, which includes the neighboring cities of Ciudad Sandino and Tipitapa. Managua is composed predominantly of mestizos and whites who are mainly of Spanish descent, with a minority being of French, Jewish Nicaraguan, German Nicaraguan, Italian, Russian and Turkish descent. Managua is the second most populous city in Central America, after Guatemala City.

Places of Interest:
Masaya Volcano
Old Cathedral of Managua


SOCA 499B: GSL: Socolgy-Hlth/Med: Nicaragua - 2 credits

Course Objectives
I. Students will be able to demonstrate the understanding of methods of critical thought and principles of scholarly inquiry concerning issues that have shaped the development of society in Nicaragua including but not limited to politics, education, gender, race, health and medicine, social class and poverty, work and the economy, families, and the environment.   
II. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of methods of critical thought and principles of scholarly inquiry concerning contemporary United States’ culture and society in comparison to contemporary Nicaragua culture and society.  
III. Students will be able to evaluate and discuss the individual’s role in making, maintaining, and changing society culture in Nicaragua. 
IV. Students will evaluate and discuss the connection between the individual and society and the Nicaragua culture. 
V. Students will evaluate and discuss the role that individuals and groups of people play in shaping our society and the Nicaragua culture. 
VI. Students will evaluate and discuss the important topics that sociologists encounter in their research and the Nicaragua culture.

Journal.  Students will be expected to keep a journal, recording their thoughts and impressions from the daily service/learning.  Topics for journal entries should be connected to the Learning Outcomes as they relate to the sights and experiences of any given day.  Journals will be graded on the basis of completeness and intellectual depth; students are expected to engage with the community, people, work and not merely personal diary entries. The journal should total between 10-15 pages standard pages.

Reflection Paper. Students will be expected to reflect on their experience associated with the study abroad. This reflection assignment will be disseminated prior to departure but it will be due during the post travel lecture. Although there is no page limit on this paper, in order to adequately reflect on the cultural aspects of your experience a minimum four double-spaced page reflection paper is required. This assignment is listed below and will also be provided in a hand-out prior to departure.
1. Plan in advance for this paper by keeping a journal, mementos, or correspondence.
2. Spend some time brainstorming: review specific events, striking conversations, sights, sounds, and even smells. 

1. In your paper reflect on some or all of the following questions:
2. In what ways is the culture where you studied different from your own?
3. How is this culture similar to your own?
4. What, if anything, shocked you?
5. How does this culture define “learning” or “knowledge”?
6. How have cultural differences made you more aware of your own culture---of its benefits, limitations, strengths, or biases?
7. In what ways might your own culture/society benefit by learning from that of others, specifically from the one in which you studied?
8. How do cultural differences allow others to view you differently than you view yourself? 

You must address the following question:
1. How might your experience abroad affect your future --- with regard to academic, social, career, and/or personal choices?

Participation and Attendance.  There are two levels of attendance expected for students enrolling in this course:  1) pre-departure, and 2) in Nicaragua.
Pre-departure attendance and participation. In order to prepare students for their travel and provide them with some medical, historical, cultural, and language background, students will be expected to attend the following five pre-departure lectures:   
* Two Foreign Language Lectures—focusing on the basic concepts that the group may encounter during this experience (e.g., health, medicine, medical, dental, food, etc.) 
* Two Health Lectures—focusing on the medical and health issues facing the people of Nicaragua. The students will be trained in the areas of triage, consultation, OGBYN, dentistry, and pharmacy.  
* One Latin American Culture Lecture—Special topics Lecture as hosted by Dr. Dan Renfrew and Professor Genesis Snyder regarding special issues to prepare you for a visit to this region of the world. 

Attendance is expected for these pre-departure lectures, unless you have another class at that time. In the case of absence, you should provide a voice recorder so that you can experience the informative lecture.
Nicaragua attendance and participation.  Since attendance is critical to the Brigade and the service/learning project will only last one week, it is imperative that all students participate on a daily basis (i.e., minus illness/hospitalization). Your community missions and daily assignments require your highest work ethic and thus it is imperative to be more than just be present in the capacity of your work and thus participation will be both quantitatively and qualitatively evaluated by the instructor, doctors and dentist who are joining the trip.


Medical Brigdes Methodology: Within our partner communities, access to healthcare remains one of the largest challenges. In these communities, clinics are scarce, and when they do exist they are often without sufficient medicine or are severely under staffed, leaving families with ailments both untreated and undiagnosed, sometimes for an entire lifetime.  To help resolve this disparity, Global Brigades has worked with local government, international and local doctors, and student leaders to develop a Medical program  with the goal to provide consistent access to healthcare using an economically sustainable model.

The  Medical Brigade and mobile clinic is made up of six primary stations: Intake: Community volunteers record the patient’s name, age, gender, and community name on a Patient Form that is sent to student volunteers to input into the Data Informatics System (electronic patient records). Triage: Comprised of nurses and licensed volunteers, this is the next station for patients after intake. In triage, patients relay their symptoms and ailments while student volunteers take blood pressure and vitals, weigh children under 12, and take temperature of children under 12 and those who report a fever. Consultation: This station is comprised of licensed local and international doctors who attend to patients after triage. Doctors consult, diagnose, and then prescribe the medication. During this station, student volunteers observe health care professionals, ask questions and learn about the most prevalent symptoms and diseases in the community. Health care professionals who do not speak the local language are equipped with a fluent or advanced translator to interpret. Each health care provider is also partnered with a Data Entry Clerk (each with a computer) who fills out the electronic patient form. Pharmacy: Prescriptions are filled under the supervision of a licensed local pharmacist who approves finished bags and answer volunteers’ questions. Volunteers or staff members who speak the local language then take the finished bags to each patient and provide instruction on its proper use. Education Workshops: Medical Brigades strive to not only provide essential medications to treat the patients' current illnesses but to also provide each patient with the knowledge of how to prevent the most prevalent diseases within the community. Workshops are delivered by three-five student volunteers accompanied by local team members and offered to each family visiting the mobile clinic. 

Dental Brigades Metholodogy: Dental Brigades focuses primarily on the oral issues that communities currently face due to limited access to dental care and education. Without access to dental care and dental services, many oral diseases such as gingivitis and dental caries worsen, cause infections, and lead to other chronic diseases. Dental Brigades addresses oral issues through immediate dental care, preventative treatments and education.

During the brigade, Dental Brigades sets up a mobile dental clinic to provide important, immediate services such as extractions for those oral cases that have surpassed the level of restoration. Through preventative services, Dental Brigades provdes sealants and fluoride treatments to the children in order to protect and delay the onset of dental caries. With these immediate and preventative services, Dental Brigades reemphasizes the importance of oral health through education in order to break the cycle of continuous decay. This educational portion of the program plays the most sustainable role for communities.Through the educational strategies provided by Medical, Water, Public Health, and Dental teams, as well as the knowledge of local Community Health Workers, Global Brigades continues to fill the need for educational health services even between brigades.


Daniel Brewster


Program Cost: 

* WVU Course Credit
* Round Trip Airfare
* Comprehensive Travel and Health Insurance
* Programmatic Activities and Supplies
* On-ground Transportation
* Lodging and Some Meals

Billing for the Spring 2018 programs will occur upon registration into the courses associated with the Education Abroad program in STAR. The payment deadlines for the program will be the same as WVU Spring Semester Tuition and Fees. Registration will occur in January students will receive correspondence from OGA with registration instructions upon acceptance into the program after the application deadline. All payments are due in full before trip departure. Payments can be made through STAR or by contacting the Office of Student Accounts at (304) 293-4006.


Visa Required for US Citizens? No

Useful Links:
How to Apply for a US Passport

Dates / Deadlines: