University of Pennsylvania ‘18
I arrived early one morning to Jaseng Hospital of Oriental Medicine for a day-trip to Dangjin, a rural area of South Korea where many residents do not have easy access to primary medical care. After a two-hour bus ride, we arrived at a grape farm where we would spend the morning helping local farmers. Our purpose was to be able to truly understand the hardships these residents face living in an area without the comforts of an urban city that we often take for granted. Once I got out of the van and looked at the vast scenery, I was awed by the beautiful mountains and clear blue sky. It was almost picturesque with high clouds serving as a backdrop for grape fields. We were greeted with much warmth from the residents, which brought our spirits up. Adorning Jaseng vests and aprons, our first task was the help the farmers wrap premature grapes to prevent bugs from eating and infecting the grapes. At first, it was daunting task: you stick your hand through the bush, separate the grapes from any dead leaves or vines, and then fully wrap the grapes all while avoiding the heat of the sun and the various insects. However, in no time, we got used to the hang of it and wrapped grapes diligently. The owners greeted us with freshly cut watermelon, and we worked until lunch time. For lunch, we were greeted with an array of side dishes, handmade tofu, and freshly marinated beef bulgogi. The owners were kind and welcoming to us and I will always remember the hard work they put into their fruits and everyday lives. Instead of simply spraying the fruits with pesticides, every season they take the time and effort to protect and grow the grapes to their healthiest states. Even though I only experienced a minute portion of hardships they face on a daily basis, I was appreciative of their efforts and ability to live life fearlessly.
Afterwards, we were whisked off to the medical site to help set up the clinic. We set up the registration desk, consultation desks, and beds for patients, each made with care for the quality of experience. We helped package medical adhesive patches that would soon be handed out. The open clinic generally attracts a big crowd and it’s important to for the Jaseng staff to run the clinic as quickly and efficiently as possible as to prevent patients from having to wait in long lines just to receive medical care. To us, it’s important that everyone gets the opportunity to see a doctor and receive primary medical assistance, especially if it is not a common commodity in that city. Seeing the appreciation the patients have for Jaseng and its medical services helped me realize how easy it is to take access to medical care for granted. Public health is a priority in any country, and being able to contribute to it was doing a great service.