I have always had the utmost respect for my uncle for his role as a dentist. He is personable, reliable, and one of the smartest people I know. I had a suspicion that his profession and his personality were connected, and now I know for certain that it is. After spending some time in the dental clinics in Belize, I know what has shaped my uncle into the person he has become through his profession.
Today I had the pleasure of assisting some of my fellow students in the dental clinics in Georgetown. When I say "pleasure," I don't mean to imply that it was enjoyable. In fact, being the guy who held the suction and the flashlight while the experts did their work to remove infected teeth was disgusting, traumatic, and the closest I had been to crying in seven years. After witnessing the intracate and delicate practice that these students go through to work on each and every patient, my level of respect for those in dentistry has gone up even further, and I feel fortunate to have been working beside them. After going through a few hours in this clinic, I realize that it's not the blood and guts that shatters the mind, but the wincing facial expressions, the grunts of pain, and the occassional piercing scream of terrified children that only the strongest of people can work through to make them healthy.
It's not just the dentists. The justice administration, communication, and nursing programs have all down fantastic work down here. If there's anything I can take away from my time in Belize, it's that character building can only be achieved by surrounding yourself by a variety of people. I believe that it is important to surround yourself by people who are stronger than you. That way, you yourself will grow.