SUMMER | 2013
THE WOODS MAGAZINE
By Lucas Watson ’13
Editor’s Note: Lucas Watson of Louisiana,
Mo., graduated May 11 with a biology/
chemistry major at William Woods University.
His many campus activities included
membership in President’s Twenty and
Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. His future plans
are to earn an MBA at William Woods and
then attend medical school. This is his
account of his recent Study Abroad
As I prepared for graduation from WWU
May 11, I found myself reflecting on the time
I spent away from all my friends at WWU.
I spent the fall semester in Ecuador, South
America, where I attended the Universidad
Espiritu Santos for a Study Abroad program in
the city of Guayaquil. The four months I was
there included some of the best experiences
of my life—and gave me a whole new set
With the advice of
Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett
WWU president, I chose the university in
Guayaquil to better my development of the
Spanish language and exposure to the
third-world country medical system.
Dr. Barnett suggested the Universidad
Espiritu Santos because the president is
Carlos Ortega Maldonado
of the WWU Board of Trustees. After
speaking with my parents and gaining their
approval, I packed my bag for South America
with no idea of what to expect once I
I departed from Chicago Aug. 26, 2012,
and landed in Quito, Ecuador, the country’s
capital, where my orientation would begin. I
was roommates with a Frenchman who soon
became one of my best friends throughout my
trip. I instantly made friends from all over the
world, including students from France,
Belgium, Australia, South Korea, Japan,
Mexico, Canada, Italy, United States,
From the moment I had my first meal, I
knew Ecuador had a culinary menu that was
very tasty; two staple foods that I had almost
on a daily basis were white rice and plantains.
While in Guayaquil, I stayed with a host
family who took me in, not as a guest, but as
their son. I will be the first person to admit
that I was scared to speak Spanish and quickly
learned how much I didn’t understand when
talking to native speakers. My development
of the language quickly sharpened, and I
gained more and more confidence daily.
At my university I took regular classes
consisting of Spanish, history of Ecuador
and an internship class. My internship was
at Hospital Luis Vernaza, where I worked in
the surgery department.
My first day on the job, my eyes were
opened to a difference in the world of
medicine between the USA and Ecuador. I,
for the first time, saw what real poverty was.
I got to work directly with patients who truly
were inspirations to me. I also assisted the
doctors in surgery and post-surgery
One of my favorite experiences while I
was in Ecuador was when I went to a small
fishing village outside the city of Duran,
and helped build homes with the non-profit
organization, Hogar de Cristo. Seeing the
appreciation these families had for us and
their new homes is something that will
remain with me for the rest of my life.
Another highlight of my adventure was a
trip to the famous Galapagos Islands. I took
a four-day trip to the islands of San Cristóbal
and Santa Cruz where I snorkeled with seals,
swam with sea turtles and sharks, and walked
with iguanas. The last night of my trip, my
friends and I slept on the beach, stargazing all
night. It was the most amazing experience I
have ever had dealing with nature.
Overall, I left William Woods looking to
perfect my Spanish and learn about Third-
World medicine. I returned with new, lifelong
friends and a second place I call home.
Ecuador—My Journey to
the Middle of the World
Opposite page, top: Watson makes friends with
children in the fishing village outside Duran.
Right: At Hospital Luis Vernaza, Watson and Magu Oviedo
dress like the doctor Watson hopes to become.