Student view:

Nina Biundo: Service learning in the Land of Smiles

Aug. 21, 2019

Nina Biundo is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience in the College of Natural Science. Biundo intends to pursue a career studying the neurology of companion animals. This summer, Biundo traveled to Thailand as part of an education abroad experience.

When I signed up for a service trip halfway across the globe, I had hoped to gain more experience in the field of veterinary medicine, but this opportunity provided me with so much more.

Helping creatures in need was my motive. Following my passion to Thailand, also known as the Land of Smiles, has impacted me more than any other experience in my life. From the moment I stepped foot on Thai soil, I was immersed in a beautiful culture and surrounded by the kindest people I have ever met.

During my time there, I participated in hands-on experiences that not only taught me technical skills, but also allowed me to witness teamwork, compassion and cultural diversity. Visiting a country so far from home allowed me to open my eyes to a culture with different beliefs and customs than my own. I ate foods I had never before seen, and spoke words not of my native tongue.

Most importantly, I had the opportunity to work in a diverse community full of people from all over the globe. We worked together harmoniously — regardless of our religious or ethnic differences — to improve animal welfare. We were able to successfully prepare animals for surgery, administer medication and perform procedures, working as one cohesive unit from start to finish.

Participating in surgery for the first time was absolutely exhilarating, but I could not have done it without the support and encouragement of those around me. I am so thankful for this experience because it led me to so many incredible people and gave me the opportunity to pursue what I love most.

Aside from working with small animals, I was also able to treat wounded elephants who had suffered tremendously due to the logging industry and a multitude of tourist attractions, such as circuses and riding camps. I prepared special meals for elephants who were unable to chew, cleaned the wounds of those who had stepped on landmines and fed those who were blind. Every single task was a privilege to me.

This opportunity has helped me grow as a pre-veterinary student but, more importantly, I have grown as a person. To leave a mark — contribute positively — that’s what my fellow MSU students and I set out to do. In return, I am forever changed and have become even more committed to our creed: Spartans Will.