Back home, I have spent the last week reflecting on my time spent in Buenos Aires, trying to get a full grasp on what I have gained and what I accomplished.
My first dinner with my Argentinian grandparents was filled with questions about how our family there is doing, and if all I visited all of their favorite restaurants and places. Of course, I shared stories from when I visited their favorite pizza restaurant, Las Cuartetas, with my cousins, the place of their first date or what we like to call the foundation of our family.
Then came the obligatory picture sharing. Swiping through my phone, there were hundreds of photos of asados (typical Argentinian barbeque) from my aunts and uncles, family gatherings to watch Argentina play in the world cup, but surprisingly very few from the clinic.
I was taken aback as I was searching for a way to share with them what I had been doing and why I had been there, trying to show them the other side of Buenos Aires that I got to meet. Once I realized that I was not going to find a picture that would do justice, I started telling stories trying to encapsulate everything. These stories ranged from crazy day trips to schools to give talks, to going to rallies for abortion rights, to the day the congress voted in favor of the abortion legalization bill.
My smile telling all of these stories made it clear to everyone in the room what a wonderful experience that this was for me. But I still felt as though I was falling short and not giving it justice. It has been incredibly difficult to reflect upon this experience. As I ask myself what I gained and what I gave, I realize these are not things that I can yet fully explain or put onto paper.
What is even more difficult for me to fully comprehend is the personal gains that I received from this experience. How in just eight weeks do I feel so connected to family that I had only met once before? Or feel so incorporated and invested in the well being of the clinic, patients, and doctors there?
I believe that it is difficult to know the impact of your own work, and even more so in the moment. On my last day, I stood in the doorway as we were locking up. With my back towards the group I was staring at the posters that I had made, hanging proudly on the wall, and the new condom dispenser, filled and readily accessible. I have a vivid mental picture of this frame.
Now as I close my eyes to visualize this scene I know that this experience has been life changing for me in a way that no picture or story could ever depict. I am forever grateful.