Volunteers gather at Operation Smile Mission Training


Pete Hansen

Workshop attendee Sophia Libonate and chaperone Christabelle Fernandez present the Paraguay flag after learning the location of their upcoming mission.

Katie Kerrigan, Staff Writer

From July 12 to 15, 40 students gathered at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for a semiannual Mission Training workshop to prepare for upcoming medical missions with Operation Smile. Over the course of three days, the attendees learned medical modules to present to locals during their trips, as well as rules and general guidelines on a variety of topics ranging from surgical practices to cultural sensitivity. 

“The number one role a student has on these trips is to be an educator,” said rising senior Sophia Libonate. “In order to be prepared we were taught five modules on things like basic healthcare (burn care, nutrition) and hygiene (hand washing, brushing teeth) to present to kids and adults we meet on sight.” 

Students travelled to the workshop from a variety of locations, with a total of 5 different countries represented, including Germany, Italy, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. In keeping with the diverse spirit, students were also assigned to missions across the globe, in locations such as the Philippines, Guatemala, India, and Bolivia.

“What’s great about Operation Smile is that it is global,” said Sophia. “This allows anyone involved to meet people from all over the world, and also to be given the opportunity to go out and see it.”