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First year students Kimberly Martocci and Samantha Chapman spent their spring break accompanying a group of dental students to provide dental and eye care to people living in the Dominican Republic.

Traveling to four different villages throughout the week, Martocci and Chapman saw about 100 patients with conditions ranging anywhere from pterygia to a corneal lesion from a nail. 

Although they can both speak some Spanish, it was necessary to use an interpreter at times, especially when the patient spoke Haitian Creole or French. They learned that although a language barrier can be frustrating, it is not impossible to overcome and having a proficient translator at hand can make all the difference to the patient.

“My favorite part of the trip was getting to pray with the patients, and seeing the way local missionaries have been faithfully laboring in these underserved communities,” Martocci said. 

Chapman said her favorite part was practicing her Spanish, praying with the patients, and watching their faces light up as they were able to see again. They are both excited to enhance their learning in the future so that they can return to underserved communities as fully equipped optometrists able to provide more advanced care.