International Medicine: 2008 Conference and Revisits

I had so many posts planned for the many months past when my schedule and flow took a turn—in a very good and mostly fun way. I have been occupied with our wedding celebration, teaching and other projects, medical electives, mouse jogging through my studies, plus my occasional will of glorious procrastination to begin writing.

For those who gave me a-okay for my Media In Medicine series e-interviews, I hope they can still remember me when I start knocking on their email doors again with my finally-written down Qs. For those whose correspondence I am all too happy to receive but have not replied yet, I hope you won’t tire checking in and seeing if I have actually risen from my blog-grave yet. And, of course, thank you for reading.


A little over a year ago in May, I flew to the beautiful Kansas City, Missouri to attend INMED‘s International Medicine Conference on Exploring Medical Missions at the University of Missouri Kansas City. It was a well-attended one with both medical and non-medical participants. As to medical conferences, INMED’s would be a good model of a modest and non-wasteful one. There was not much of the fancy schmancy swags we often find or expect in most medical conferences. And, the conference was still a hit sans good coffee.  A minute detail which can easily be fixed. 😉

There were many exhibitors—medical mission sending organizations, financial groups, travel agents, hospitals, and even residency training programs. I’ve had the most interesting time meeting some of them and I had quite a few favorites.

My top 3 are:

Health Teams International (medical mission sending organization)

Mercy Ships (medical mission ship and sending organization)

Spanish Plus (Spanish language lessons for health care) The founder, Gene Flanery, hit home when he spoke Cebuano. It turns out he has lived as a missionary in the Philippines for 5 years in the past.

After the conference, I got together with a good friend, whom I have not seen after so many years. I was also very happy to see her again and another friend of ours in my wedding later on after this.

This was taken in one of our stops for that day, Kansas Zoo, on a Segway.
After I’ve almost fallen splat on concrete
for being overzealous with this awesome ride,
I’d say this is the coolest thing.
I surely would not mind having one.


This conference brought me back to the summer of 1996 when I was still a pre-medical student in the Philippines. That was the time in life when I had one of the most valuable human experience that blessed my being with a wonderful new dimension and awakening. It was the time when I crossed the threshold which soon ushered me into more medical missions thereafter. It was in medical mission trips where I met many of the most wonderful people I know now. Some of them have become good friends who I still keep in touch with from time to time and some have remained a happy memory.

In another post, I will share more stories about that summer of 1996 in the mountains and barrios of Bukidnon in southern Philippines.


For now, here’s a photo of a friend from that summer. We met again in New York quite recently, after so many years since our summer “adventure” and then again in Mexico for my wedding celebration after that.


Later that day, also in New York, we met another old Summer Immersion friend who lives nearby.  A special treat for the three of us on that same day was a visit to his apartment where he still kept his old Bukidnon album (I guess we all had a certain version of this deeply memorable time). We crazily  scanned through some old photos and lived a moment of belly aches reading some of the old notes and messages that were delivered to one another by foot from one mountain barrio to another. I am so glad to know that our friend brought all that with him across the Pacific. I so willingly almost died laughing while we reminisced some of our insane and funny moments in the mountains that summer.

If I had kept a photo, I would also put up another memory I have with another friend I caught up with in Thailand in 2006 where she was doing a human rights project visit. This friend is among the very first friends I met on the first day of college.

Like the NPR story I linked to here on friendships made on the first semester of college, some friends I made from that phase in my life (together with our bit of extended associations) have indeed become amongst my enduring friends. This, no matter where life throws us around the globe.

Here is a photo with another friend whom I have also met in the first semester of college. We were in an island called Boracay in the Philippines for her wedding in 2007.

These are just a few photographs celebrating the paths crossed with folks and with these friends who continue to inspire me on many levels. I carry more inside of me and they will easily spill over this tiny space. It will never be enough. These are just some of the reasons why I celebrate journeys. The conference reminded me so much of these precious times in my life.


The soul of international medicine (medical missions) and celebrating the beauty of life through meaningful friendships and meaningful work is not too far in color and flavor. In medical missions—it is in living and celebrating this journey by meaningful connection through humble service to those who otherwise might not have a chance to receive it. In friendships, it is in living and celebrating this journey by meaningful connections made while honoring and enjoying one another’s unique selves. Both circumstances are accounts of timeless moments.

This conference made me remember all these precious times and look forward to more of life’s journeys—living with meaning, pushing boundaries, and getting in touch with the ideal in the hopes of fulfilling a certain purpose while making me remember the very things that I celebrate about in my life.

The conference also allowed me to revisit many aspects and dimensions of myself. The complexity yet the simplicity of a dream I hope to be able to live not too long from now. Nothing grand. Nothing fancy. Just simple alignment of resource, intent, and purpose. To find my place, though small but hopefully meaningful, in this bigger world.

I have a long way to go…


~ by Karina Descartin on 26 September 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s