Flying Samaritans at UCLA
"Flying Samaritans at UCLA has allowed me to further my commitment to the under-served community and put into practice the passion I have in providing health services, which are unfortunately lacking in communities like Margarita Moran. Through Flying Sams, I've learned about the diseases that are most prevalent in the Latino/a community. I've been allowed to practice basic care like taking blood pressure and glucose level and, most importantly, I am exposed to what great patient care and interaction looks like. Being part of the monthly trips to Margarita Moran truly makes me feel like my presence is needed and appreciated because the physicians that accompany us take into consideration the patient evaluations that we as volunteers fill out. With all honesty and excitement, I encourage anyone who is interested in the pre-health professions, and/or simply loves taking part in community service to join Flying Sams, as this will enrich your experience on this campus." - Ernesto Valles, UCLA Alumnus
"While volunteering as a Spanish translator with Flying Samaritans at UCLA, I remember this young Hispanic woman who recently lost her baby during her first trimester of pregnancy. This woman was a single mother of four children who was really excited to have another child. However, when she discovered that she lost her child this led her to have depression. This event led me to understand the difficulties and hardships people from the community of Margarita Moran in Tijuana, Mexico go through. Most importantly, getting the opportunity to know the individuals made me realize the importance to understand each person as a whole. When I say whole, I mean that the individual’s emotion, personal beliefs, customs, and culture are overall respected. I learned that taking these factors are important to consider when working in medically underserved communities." - Johanna Gonzalez, UCLA Student
"I remember going on my first trip before the clinic was running- the reception was amazing, everyone was so happy to see us there. The people in Colonia Margarita Moran have so little yet they are all still so happy. When we went, there was a community gathering taking place and there were lots of people in attendance. For the kids, there was a clown who was playing games with them such as "pato, pato, ganso" or duck, duck, goose. The children were really friendly and wanted us to play along. WE had the opportunity to put a smile on each of their faces and it was such a good feeling knowing that we'll soon be coming back here every month to provide them with access to free health care that they otherwise would never receive. Now that I've been going to clinic for a while, I can tell you that every time you go there, you get the opportunity to see them smile because of all the work you do and the satisfaction that it brings never fades." - Faraz Khan, UCLA Alumnus
"On my first clinic trip, I learned more about being a doctor in one day than I have learned from all my schooling thus far. Being able to talk to patients, and have them follow-up with you afterwards is a one of a kind experience. The most important thing that I learned from the trip was how much body language and demeanor can make a difference with patients. The doctor and resident who were on the trip with us were so open and comforting with the patients, always putting them at ease, Even with a language barrier, I could see in the patients' faces that they trusted the health professionals and were more talkative and relaxed. I never realized until this experience how vital a professionals' affect is in a doctor-patient relationship, and I could only have gained this knowledge from talking to and being around patients and health professionals in the unique setting of the Flying Samaritans." - Aaron Lapidus, UCLA Alumnus
"I went to clinic on January 16th. It was really inspiring to see how energetic all the volunteers were at the crack of dawn. At clinic, I met many patients who dealt with difficult symptoms. Although there was a language barrier, I was still able to empathize with their situation. It was really fulfilling to provide them some amount of care and it was also nice to visibly see that they appreciated our efforts. In particular, I thought it was amazing that we offered women’s health resources. I remember one teenage girl who didn’t know what contraceptives options were available and we were able to provide education on the different methods and also condoms. This experience has shown me that many of the medical advancements we have back home that seem commonplace are actually very privileged resources. I’m really proud of the work that Flying Sams does and am excited for the clinics to come!" - Jessica Hsueh, UCLA Student
"I went to clinic on April 18. It was my second clinic trip and I found it really heartening to actually recognize most of our patients even though it was only my second clinic trip. This goes to show how much of a constant Flying Sams has become in the community, which is really inspiring. One of our first patients brought a granddaughter along, who was a really cheery girl. She kept smiling at us and even though she did not say anything, it was clear that she enjoyed our presence. Even after her grandmother was done, she kept coming back to our triage group. It was nice to see how children like her are enjoying our presence in our efforts to improve the healthcare in their community. The little girl also cheered for me for the entire clinic, as if giving me encouragement to last the tiring day. Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip and I can't wait to go for more!" - Wei Li, UCLA Student
"Being a part of Flying Samaritans at UCLA has been one of the most rewarding and fun volunteer projects I have been involved with. I was always interested in doing some sort of international healthy advocacy, and for anyone who shares the same desire, this organization definitely provides you with that opportunity. It's a great experience to be able to communicate to patients and doctors. As a volunteer, you definitely have an important role in communicating the patients' needs to the doctors. I have learned a lot from the doctors who do a great job at describing what steps they do and why to get to a diagnosis. It is also a great hands on learning experience where you get to practice taking vital signs and a patient's medical history. Overall, Flying Sams is a great program that just keeps getting better with every monthly clinic." - Marcy Quintero, UCLA Alumnus
"Curiosity, nervousness, excitement - these were just a few of the many feelings I experienced on the morning drive to our first official clinic at Colonia Margarita Moran, Mexico. Upon arriving and witnessing the conditions of our community, I was overcome with a desire to help make a lasting impact. From the get-go I was granted the opportunity to actively engage with our patients, the club members, and the doctors by helping to break down the language barrier. Besides translating, I had the privilege to learn directly from the attending physicians and to broaden my horizons when it came to learning what it means to extract a complete patient history- that is, to ask the right questions and spot red flags. Our community in this small pueblo was so welcoming and appreciative that it definitely left me with the motivation to continue coming back!" - Josue Reynaga, UCLA Alumnus
"On my first clinic trip, I was assigned to the vitals team, which involved recording each patient's height, weight, blood pressure, blood glucose, oxygen saturation, temperature, and heart rate. I had never performed a blood glucose test before, but the other volunteers helped teach me and even let me practice on them, which was really generous. I also got the chance to sit in on a few patient visits and watch the doctors performing exams and interacting with the patients, which was fascinating. The patients were all very appreciative of us and it was so rewarding to see the immediate impact we were having on their lives. All in all, it was an amazing, eye-opening experience and made me realize that there are some things worth waking up at 4 AM for." - Lauren D'Andrea, UCLA Student
"March clinic was really interesting. I got to see Dr. Maria counsel a patient in how to live a healthy lifestyle to manage her diabetes. What was amazing was this patient was so eager to live a better life so that she can be there for her kids and her grandkids. I also saw another patient who was 18, only a couple years younger than I am. The funny thing is, she said she gets really intense headaches from thinking about school. Sometimes, she's so busy that she skips meals. Sounds like me while frantically studying during midterm season or finals week. But it was heartbreaking to hear that she feels she has no one to help her de-stress. Dr. Kim from CHLA asked her some questions that are typical of a depression screening. I realized that these patients may live in a different world than we UCLA students do but we still have the same kinds of problems. We worry about our families and we want to be there for them. We worry about school and our future careers. So do the people of Colonia Margarita Moran. If anything, seeing the common burdens we share makes me want to help them more. I'm so glad to be part of a club like Flying Sams because I can also help them in small ways. Not only do we take patient medical history in Triage groups, but also we listen to their stories as an emotional outlet." - Kristen Lee, UCLA Student
"The first trip I made to Colonia Margarita Moran with Flying Sams was both a humbling and an inspiring experience. Visiting a community with so much need made me realize how much we take health and access to healthcare for granted here in the US. Many of the people who came to the clinic had suffered from chronic conditions but had never had the opportunity to see a doctor. Seeing how relieved and thankful each of these patients were to have healthcare professionals and students like us take the time to sit down and listen to them was so incredibly rewarding. For me, it was a powerful reaffirmation that I want to go into a career in healthcare. When I returned to Colonia Margarita Moran the following month, the experience was inspiring in a very different way. We still saw many new patients with acute injuries of illnesses, but I also saw lots of familiar faces from the clinic the previous month. Families brought their kids in for routine checkups- and patients with high BP from the previous month came in to see if the lifestyle changes they had been making were having a positive effect. Knowing that they would have access to a regular monthly clinic with Flying Sams allowed people for the first time to make an investment in their health. Instead of thinking of healthcare as something of a last resort when already sick or injured, people in this community are going to be able to make healthcare a part of a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their families. It was on this trip that I realized the incredible potential the Flying Sams has to make a lasting impact in this community and I know that I want to continue to be a part of that impact." - Cosette DeChant, UCLA Alumnus
"With the warm sun on our faces, we ventured into the community of Margarita Moran. During my first clinic, I was lucky enough to be part of the RICH committee and got the opportunity to see firsthand what our patients' every day lives are like and talk to them about the resources available to them. I quickly began to understand more fully how difficult it is for the patients to access affordable, healthy food and how helpful the research we're conducting is to better serve the community. I also got to work in triage, interacting with patients and doctors and discussing health. I'm glad I got to see both sides of the community and how the things we learned researching can directly impact how we aid the patients. I definitely now believe that history and social circumstances are extremely important in healthcare, and that there's more to health than just a diagnosis and treatment." - Jackie Nguyen, UCLA Student
Share your experiences and submit your own testimonial so everyone can see how Flying Samaritans has made a difference. Please submit testimonials by emailing our Historian.
On each clinic trip, we create more of these inspiring, funny, and precious moments. Please take a moment to read about how Flying Samaritans has affected our lives and those of the people in La Colonia Margarita Moran. Feel free to share your experiences and submit your testimonial so the world can see the difference Flying Samaritans has made.