This April, we celebrated our volunteers with appreciation events. We honored several with service awards, including Brittn Grey, who won a Gold U.S. President’s Award for serving over 500 hours with Medical Teams International in Guatemala!
President’s Volunteer Service Awards are awarded by the U.S. President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation for service in the prior year. This year we had three Gold winners. After serving her award-winning volunteer hours in Guatemala, Brittn recently became a full time employee at MTI as our Latin America & Caribbean Program Coordinator. She took a break from her busy visit to the States to share her thoughts on volunteering with MTI and winning this distinguished award.
Brittn first learned about MTI in early 2013 through a team leader who was organizing a medical team to San Juan Chamelco in Guatemala and needed a translator. Brittn, who is fluent in English and Spanish, had previously volunteered internationally in Latin America with other organizations as a translator. Although she is not a medical professional, Brittn was interested in getting involved in public health and international development related to health; plus as a former resident of Guatemala, she already had love for the country. The trip with MTI seemed like a good fit.
After her first week-long volunteer trip with MTI, Brittn was hooked. She was convinced by MTI’s mission and health goals. “I was very impressed,” she says, “by MTI’s structure; to incorporate and empower the local community for the good of the community’s heath.” Brittn was also impressed by the Guatemalan field staff. She says, “MTI’s focus on using local staff that know the languages and are intimately aware of the cultural context has a phenomenal impact on the sustainability of the program and its practical application.” Her interest in MTI’s work and goals materialized in a long-term volunteer position in Guatemala.
Brittn’s reflections illustrate that volunteering with MTI has been a rewarding experience. "Volunteering," she says, “allowed me to develop relationships with community members who are the most closely impacted by MTI’s work. I got to be on the end where I saw the funding move into change, where I saw the funding providing opportunities for social and behavioral change that has the potential to transform health within impoverished communities.”
Volunteering alongside Guatemalan field staff, Brittn also learned about the cultures and customs of the communities she worked with; she felt enriched by the staff’s knowledge and skills. Additionally, as a coordinator for teams of volunteers - providing in-country logistics, interpretation, and programing - Brittn enjoyed a “tremendous opportunity to be a bridge between different cultures and to be involved in the transformational development that is fostered within both the volunteer and the communities through MTI programs.”
When asked about winning the Gold President’s Award, Brittn says she was totally surprised and really honored. Her humble thoughts on winning the award truly demonstrate MTI’s values: “There are so many volunteers working for MTI and so many local Guatemalan volunteers that are so crucial within the community where we work, my part is very small. But its part of a larger picture that I have been so honored to be a part of.”
Congratulations to Brittn again on her award! We are so grateful for all of our volunteers who make our work possible.
Join our team! Click here for more info on our Guatemala Program and Team Services Volunteer position and how to apply. No medical experience required. Fluent Spanish a must.
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