Alyssa Brandt’s Reflection on visiting Haiti
I traveled to Haiti with St. Ann’s for the first time when I was 15 years old, where I worked at the annual summer camp and became friends with many of the youth parishioners of St. Claire. My experiences in Haiti revolutionized by worldview and, ultimately, my life in several ways. First, after spending time in the local clinic and witnessing the lack of adequate healthcare, I decided to become a doctor. Second, making friends with several Haitians my age and learning about a new culture gave new context to the way I experience my daily life. It made me more curious about other’s backgrounds and how my own culture shapes the way I perceive the world. Engaging myself in Haitian culture also challenged me in unexpected ways. It was my first experience as a minority, an experience that encouraged me to confront the limits of my comfort zone as I began to question the ways I may harbor my own biases. I struggled with topics such as unearned privilege and gender roles in a unique culture. Most importantly, however, are the several lifelong friends I have in Haiti because of the partnership between St. Ann’s and St. Claire.
I have returned to Haiti several times since my first trip there many years ago. Most recently I spent several weeks living at a local convent and practicing medicine with several nuns from Madagascar who work as nurses in Dessalines. After graduating undergrad I was accepted as a medical student at Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, where I am currently a fourth year medical student and global health scholar. In several months I will be traveling back to Ghana to intern with the chief of surgery at Eastern Regional Hospital in Koforidua. Ultimately, my goal is to become a surgeon who operates alongside local physicians in communities around the globe who don’t have access to quality care, and I owe this ambition to St. Ann’s Haiti Outreach program.