Volunteering Abroad: Expanding Horizons in Nutrition

Volunteering Abroad: Expanding Horizons in Nutrition | Food & Nutrition | Student Scoop
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If you’re a dietetics student or dietetic intern, there’s no doubt you know how important volunteering is to strengthen your portfolio. The experience of being of service is invaluable to your development as a professional and can help you discover your passions in the world of nutrition and dietetics.

Seek Out Opportunities

I got involved with a few volunteer experiences during my undergraduate studies at Montana State University, but I was always looking for more meaningful volunteer commitments. I was really hoping to find a way to incorporate my education into my desire to help others, and last year I found the perfect opportunity.

Pursue Your Interests

In September of 2017, I traveled to San Pedro La Laguna in Guatemala to study Spanish and find a group to volunteer with. While there, I stumbled upon a small, grassroots non-profit organization called Rising Minds. Rising Minds is based in the U.S. and has a second home in Guatemala. Their mission is to “bridge cultural, economic, and developmental gaps through the integration of education, awareness, and action”. Rising Minds partners with a preschool, Centro de Estimulación Integral para el Bienestar, in San Juan La Laguna to address the pressing need for health education, especially nutrition, proper hygiene and disease prevention, and mental health. This was perfect for me because they integrated gardening, nutrition, cooking, art and outdoor appreciation into their teaching approach, which are all things I enjoy doing in my free time.

Personalize Your Experience

I used my education and interests to help this group develop their nutrition curriculum. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about working with and teaching children, developing lesson plans and materials, and seeing the way international collaborations can benefit underserved communities. The immersion experience also improved my cultural competence, which I believe is important for all nutrition professionals.

Expand Your Horizons

Are you interested in pursuing your own international nutrition experiences? Check out the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics International Project Award and start making your international nutrition dreams a reality!

Katelyn Shea
Katelyn Shea is a dietetic intern with the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital Dietetic Internship. She graduated from Montana State University with a B.S. in Food and Nutrition and dual minors in Latin American and Latino Studies and Hispanic Studies.