Volunteers Around the World has been on the UTSA campus for three years. With thirty active members, the pre-dental chapter extends the exciting opportunity to travel to other countries, where students get the opportunity to immerse in the culture while offering free dental care for the communities they serve. In between trips, the organization offers shadowing and language workshops in preparation for the summer mission excursion.
This year, Volunteers Around the World spent two weeks in Guatemala. On the trip, the group collected dental supplies and distributed them to middle schools, informing them about proper dental hygiene. All good- standing members who meet the requirements can join the trip, even if students are not pre-dental. To raise money for the trip, the organization conducts several fundraisers throughout the year: most of which have been online due to a majority of students being virtual for the past semester.
Before the transition to virtual due to the pandemic, the organization was having regular meetings with an active spring semester attendance. For some members, this semester will be the first time they are meeting each other in-person and visiting campus as an organization. Volunteers Around the World is unique in its inclusivity: students from both UTSA and other universities can join allowing a variety of students access to a pre-dental community.
President Ricardo Sosa Silva said that being a small organization is one of the its perks. “My favorite thing is that it can be a benefit [the organization] quite small,” said Silvia. “You get to know everyone and we have a better connection which is helpful for the trip. It’s ideal that you know everyone because you enjoy the trip more.”
Silva also noted additional benefits of joining the organization. “Students have an amazing opportunity, especially as a pre-dental student, because you do get a great experience.
The main reason that hopefully everyone joins dentistry is to help people, so that is something we offer.”
Volunteers Around the World is hosting their first meeting on September 7. To stay updated, the organization recommends following their instagram: @vawutsa.