Summer With Asociación Manos Abiertas


My name is Olivia Lenzo. I am a rising senior at Tulane studying Cell & Molecular Biology and Spanish. I plan to eventually attend medical school sometime after undergrad, as I have been in love with the human body for about as long as I can remember. I love reading non-fiction and running. I am from Chicago, but like to spread my time across as many places in the U.S. and the world as possible. I am excited for this opportunity to live and work in Guatemala for the first time ever!

I will be interning with Asociación Manos Abiertas (AMA) for the next 6 weeks. AMA is an NGO in Ciudad Vieja (a tiny town in Guatemala about an hour or so away from Guatemala City) that works with low-income women/families in Guatemala to provide gynecological, obstetric, and family planning services. The clinic maintains a focus on natural, minimally invasive care that keeps the best interest of women and their babies closest at mind.

My learning objectives for this summer are:

  1. Gain a close understanding of alternative medicine practices.
  2. Become more familiar with the women’s reproductive health and obstetrics sector of healthcare.
  3. Develop a wider, more open-minded perspective of the healthcare field and the world.
  4. Become more confident in my interactions with patients and peers/mentors in the professional setting.
  5. Further develop my Spanish with a focus on strengthening my ease and confidence of communication.

I believe the fulfillment of these learning objectives will serve me well in my personal and professional development. Widening my general world perspective will provide me with a greater sense of self-confidence and calmness in taking on future endeavors. The opportunity to learn and train in an alternative and non-traditional/Western medicine setting will provide me with a more open-minded and well-rounded approach in my future medical career, as I believe it is important to remember there is often more than one “right” way to do something.

I cannot think of an internship that would better hone my leadership skills as a woman in the 21st century. Manos Abiertas is owned and operated entirely by women. Their mission statement is “Atención de mujer a mujer” – meaning all services are provided for women and by women. Every midwife, nurse, doctor, etc. who works at the clinic is a woman, and I am confident I have much to learn in the way of leadership from all of these women who are excelling and doing so much good for others in a career field and national culture that is generally male-dominated.

To prepare to arrive and live safely in a foreign and relatively less-developed country – I have been busy getting a few logistics in order. I have also been trying to practice my Spanish as much as possible, so that I will feel a little more comfortable communicating when I first arrive (I am sure it will be hard at first to find confidence in speaking a language I am not fluent in with first-language Spanish speakers).

I am excited for all the new that is about to surround me: a new country, a new field of healthcare, a new culture, a new set of colleagues. I am looking forward to getting to know Guatemala a bit, as I have tried to go in with as few expectations as possible. I am most excited for all the hands-on learning I will be doing and patient interactions. In my past clinical experience, I find I often learn the most directly from my patients.


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