Earlier this month, the Trinity student organization "Kid Companions" held their final event for the 2018 summer term at the St. Benedict Children’s Home and Orphanage. The end of the term is a transitional period at Trinity, as fifth term students head to clinical clerkships in Baltimore right as a new group of students begin at the school. To ease the transition, both current and newly elected executive boards of the Kid Companions traveled together to the St. Benedict Children’s Home in Georgetown. We sat down with members Andrea Bodale, Clara Bil, and president Sam Brosman.
What benefits have you gained as members of Kid Companions?
Andrea: My time has made me realize that when I interact with patients I want to get to know them on a personal level and want to build that better relationship to get the best one-on-one interaction. It's good for gathering patient history, but it really just shows them quickly that I care.
Clara: I think my time will definitely help me grow in terms of interactions with kids, which can be challenging itself and will take patience.
Sam: Serving as President has been great experience. I was able to see the bigger picture in events and organizing activities. It has helped my communication with administration, and my leadership development among my peers. It has also reinforced my passion towards potentially specializing in pediatrics. I enjoy not only working with the kids but also working in a space with empathy, understanding, and going the extra mile to provide the best possible care that I can.
What was the final activity for the year, and how successful was it?
Sam: We went there choosing not to plan but just to go with the flow. After coming off the bus, we did paper drawings and followed this with “slippery potato," a game where everyone’s hands are covered in soap, passing water balloons around like hot potatoes. It moved from water balloon relay time to a rigorous balloon toss. It was truly successful and for the companions, it was clearly the most fun they’d had with the children.
Andrea: I absolutely loved it. It was hands down the most fun they had in the two years I have been here and that says a lot since they always have an amazing time. I think it was a highlight for their day as much as it was ours.
Clara: It was a great success. Everybody was having fun. There was definitely a lot of improvising to adapt to the kids' individual needs, but overall it was successful and a lot of fun.
How would you summarize this year's relationship between the kids at the orphanage and the members of Kid Companions?
Clara: The relationship between us as colleagues and the group's relationship with our young friends were filled with personal interactions and I really admire all the friendships that have been built. Seeing the interactions were as special as they were a terrific learning experience as med students.
Sam: The end of this term marks one year since I moved to St. Vincent, which makes this my ninth visit to the orphanages. I have never felt closer to the children than I have this term. I’ve also noticed more volunteers calling them by name and the children using our names right back. I have handshakes personalized to people! I’ve never given more hugs in my life and one of the volunteers not only knew today was one of the girl’s birthday, but she even brought a cake to leave with Sister Nyra-Ann. These relationships have grown into everything I hoped when I interviewed for the position of President, and I can’t wait to see where it takes us from here. This term is the first time I have seen some of the other ladies at the orphanage joining in on the fun and laughing around with us, and it was incredible to see them out there during the carnival games, laughing and playing around.
Andrea: Like a family, we almost seem like their older siblings which is why it gets so hard to leave fifth term. We watched them grow up for two years, from not being able to talk, to maturing and no longer being shy.
Where do you want to see this partnership go in the future?
Sam: In the future I would like there to be some way to increase the number of people that are able to visit and meet these amazing children. If there was a way to have more members going, that we could increase the amount of trips we make. Maybe, some new people who are afraid of devoting so much time could have the chance to go just one time. I truly believe all the students at Trinity want to volunteer their time and take advantage of this incredible opportunity. The taxing life of a medical student however, doesn’t always make it easy for every student to join the trip especially when there are only three trips and limited space. Most of the time when we open the trip to sign up it fills up within minutes.
Andrea: I wish I could come back and see how much I could keep up with them. From the bottom of my heart wish I could watch them grow up. They have watched me grow too for two years, and they are part of the reason I am the person I am today.
Clara: I don’t know if it is possible or the logistics but I would like to try to incorporate trips outside the orphanage to be able to show them something new and create a new experience.
The students’ enthusiasm is, and remains, a critical element of success at Trinity and in our graduates' careers. Kid Companions clearly has been giving service to the community through programs with the St. Benedict Children’s Home and the Bread of Life Orphanage. Their undeniable dedication to the children has fueled a great relationship which will continue to take both groups happily into the future.