While most college students spent the summer working to earn money,
sophomore athletic-training student Cynthia Wright was volunteering
as a physical therapy assistant at a missionary hospital, Hospital
Vozandes-Quito, in Quito, Ecuador, for nine weeks. She assisted
with basic rehabilitation, therapeutic modalities, exercises and
acute care for orthopedic conditions.
"It was a challenge, especially with language and cultural
differences, but it was rewarding; and the people were wonderful,"
Wright was part of a mission organization called HCJB World Radio,
which has worked in Ecuador for many years. The organization's main
focus is providing Christian radio broadcasting, including evangelical
radio programs and pastoral courses, in the native languages of
Russell Richardson, associate professor of kinesiology/athletic
training at Whitworth, says Wright's work in the hospital sharpened
her skills as a practitioner and helped her define herself as a
Christian athletic trainer.
"The most direct benefit of Cynthia's experience was the deepening
of her commitment to serve all of humankind," Richardson says.
"She has a hunger and thirst to care for those in need. She
developed skills through her experience that forced her to be creative
in her application of rehabilitation because the hospital had limited
Wright and her group also spent several weekends working with the
Quichua, the largest minority group in Ecuador, in communities near
the city of Riobamba. The group led games for the children, and
music and worship services for everyone in the communities. The
HCJB has been ministering to the Quichua and working to provide
them with clean water sources.
"The weekends in those communities were some of the hardest
and most gratifying experiences of my life," Wright says. "The
hours were long, conditions were dirty, and the food was strange-but
the heartfelt appreciation for our efforts, the beauty of helping
God's children, and the feeling of being part of something way bigger
than myself was life changing."
In their spare time, Wright and the other college students visited
the Ecuadorian capital of Quito and attended a soccer game. She
values the relationships she formed with several Ecuadorians during
"Despite occasional language and culture misunderstandings,
we found friendship is a universal language, and I ended up learning
a lot from several Christian Ecuadorians I met who helped me to
see things from a different perspective," Wright says. "Latin
culture is very people- and relationship-oriented and I think Americans
like myself can learn a lot from it."
Wright's experiences in Ecuador allowed her to combine her interests
in the Spanish language, other cultures and athletic training, says
Melinda Larson, assistant professor of kinesiology/athletic training
"Cynthia's seeking out this experience demonstrates her passion
for people and her studies as well as her desire to use her talents
to serve God," Larson says.
Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts
college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The college
enrolls 2,200 students in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate