The Big Decision

June 9, 2016

     Tomorrow, Team Cambodia goes into our last weekend before we return to the States. Technically, we have three days left before boarding the international flight home, and so technically, I have three days left before I have to make my big decision which is “do I wish to pursue a medical career?” When I applied to come on this trip, I was on the fence as to whether I focus on music or on medicine. Some days, I could vividly imagine the feel of my very own white coat. Then again, on other days, the thought of being a doctor seemed so far away, so burdensome, when I could instead just play my guitar and sing all day. I was faced with a big decision. A pediatrician or a musician? Writing songs or writing prescriptions? Serving music-lovers or serving children? Evoking the cheers of fans or evoking the smiles of families? These are the kinds of questions I ask myself every day, and I continued to ask myself those questions for the three weeks I’ve been here in Cambodia.

     I brought my guitar and a list of songs on this trip, and there were several moments—with and without them—that I was able to share my voice with my new friends. Sometimes, the whole team would listen, and other times, I had the ears of just three (who stayed up with me well past midnight). Still, each of those moments meant the world, and throughout the trip, I thought, “This is definitely what I want to do for the rest of my life.” On the flip side, I also brought my stethoscope and a small journal, and there were many moments that I was able to interact with the team and with the patients in clinic and take note of the incredible wisdom that flowed from both. Those moments meant just as much, and throughout the trip, I thought, “This is definitely what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

     Before I go on, I want to say, “Thank you,” to each and every individual whose life crossed path with mine. To the undergraduates, to the volunteers, to the interpreters, (ESPECIALLY) to the medical students, to faculty, and to the patients, thank you for what you imparted into me on this trip. Whether you think you did anything worthwhile for me or not, I can assure you that each of you impacted me and your own way. Every laugh, every word of advice, every compliment, and every critique was much appreciated.

     So, I’ll wrap this up now by referencing Mrs. Bina. She told me a long while back that this trip would get me off the fence. At first, I thought that she meant, “This trip will make you choose one or the other: music or medicine,” but that assumption was wrong. This trip showed me how much I loved both. All this time, I’ve been trying to narrow my “passion” down to just one: music OR medicine. However, the reason why I’ve never been content with my choice is because what I’ve really been looking for this whole time is a balance between the two. I’m aware that medical school will require a lot of my time. A whole lot of my time! And sometimes, my music will have to be put on hold. However, I can say that I have now made my “big decision.”

     I will work hard for the rest of this summer to get into medical school, where I will delve deeply into a community of knowledge. Then, whenever I have free time, you better believe that I will find a community of music, and there, I will submerge myself in my second—but definitely not lesser—passion. Then, I’ll just smile, knowing that this fantastic, life-changing trip, MoM Cambodia 2016, was where it all fell into place.

Justis Ward, Undergraduate Student

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