A World Away, Students Make Do … and Make a Difference

Penn College students gather with schoolchildren in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

On the steps of a school in Las Terrenas, Santo Domingo, Penn College students join a group of teachers and administrators. The students conducted clinics in four schools in four days at Las Terrenes.

Jenna N. Tippy, a student from Langhorne, outfits a curious child with gloves, glasses and face mask to be her “helper.”

The students provided their young clients with Penn College backpacks, courtesy of the Admissions Office.

Pretty in pink: Instructor Rhonda J. Seebold snapped a photo of students with children whose outfits just happened to be a perfect match to the students’ bright lab jackets. The students were providing sealants.

Students in Penn College’s dental hygiene bachelor’s degree major made a summer stop in the Dominican Republic, where they provided free dental services to between 250 and 300 children in underserved neighborhoods. The students first visited the town of Las Terrenas, on the northeast coast, where they spent four days providing free dental clinics at four schools before traveling south to Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital, to serve a school there. A highlight of the trip happened in Santo Domingo, where the students’ accommodations were within walking distance of the school in which they would establish a clinic. On their way back from the school, with supplies in hand, the students came upon a dirt alley where small children were playing. “Some of the students sort of dropped everything and started playing with them,” said Rhonda J. Seebold, part-time instructor of dental hygiene, who led the study abroad trip. With the help of Seebold’s son, who speaks fluent Spanish, the children’s parents excitedly accepted an offer to provide fluoride treatments to the children, and the students went about setting up a clinic. “Part of what I teach the students is that you make do with what you have,” Seebold said. While in the Dominican Republic, Seebold estimates that the 12 students treated about 75 children a day. The students were enrolled in a summer elective course called International Oral Health Care Experience.
Photos provided

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