In May 2023, the Dental Community Fellowship (DCF) embarked on a mission to San Jose, Costa Rica, in collaboration with a new national partner called Go for the City. Our team, consisting of 13 members, represented a diverse mix: we had fresh D2 students who had recently completed their first year, we had enthusiastic D3 students who were excited to gain their first clinical experience, and even a D4 student eagerly looking forward to graduation and pursuing a future in private practice.” To ensure guidance and support, two graduate dentists joined us as mentors.

While DCF teams have served in Costa Rica before, this particular trip introduced us to a new contact, Pastor Miguel, and his family, who graciously hosted us. Together, we had various opportunities to spread God’s love to those in need, including refugees, homeless individuals, and others seeking dental care.

Throughout the week, we performed nearly 500 dental procedures. Our team tackled tasks such as calculus removal and caries repair. Although we did perform several extractions, we noticed a lower incidence of decay among our patients compared to other countries in Latin America.

One notable aspect of this trip was how well our team connected. Prior to the journey, most members were relatively unfamiliar with one another. However, DCF trips present a unique chance for students from different classes to bond and get to know each other through collaborative work and interaction. In addition to forging new friendships, we enjoyed delicious meals (with plenty of beans and rice!), engaged in late-night card games, and embarked on an outing to appreciate the natural beauty of Costa Rica.

The primary objective of a DCF trip like this one can be summed up as “expose, teach, mentor, and inspire future service.” Through exposure to another culture, participants gain a deep appreciation for its richness. Teaching lies at the core of our mission, as we have the privilege of supplementing the education provided at the CDM/MUSC with practical hands-on mentoring experiences. Ultimately, our hope is that these experiences will instill a sense of volunteerism in the students, inspiring them to serve those in need both at home and abroad in the years to come.