Last week as I was driving to church small group, I reflected upon how I never really did any consistent volunteering work in the past 3 years of medical school. In college, I would overload myself with volunteering activities and clubs, but somehow, all that fell off in the face of the challenge of learning medicine. Then my thoughts wandered to the little chinatown clinic that I rotated at last month for family medicine. It was the “hole-in-the-wall-restaurant” experience equivalent of a clinic. And I mean that in the best way. With seven employees, two physicians and a lot of love from their patients who come back again and again, all squeezed in a tiny Manhattan-apartment-sized clinic, they still managed to deliver the most needed care to the underserved communities around chinatown, the uninsured and the recent immigrants.
Naturally a light bulb went off in my head: I just found the perfect volunteering opportunity for myself! After a phone call with the very pleasantly surprised physician and front desk assistant, this Saturday morning I drove myself out of bed and to clinic to start my first day of volunteering. I quickly realized that on a busy Saturday clinic day, the most useful task I could do is intake, measure vital signs and get the snippets of patient history to expedite the doctor visit. So off I went, zipping between the front desk, intake room and patient rooms, giving shots and doing EKGs in midst. It felt great, even though I was mostly taking vital signs and doing more manual tasks than thinking exercises. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces, and patients would call me by “Dr. Zhou” because I had seen in during the prior month. There was even a sweet patient who made chives empanadas and brought them fresh from the kitchen for all of us to enjoy as breakfast!
At the end of my volunteering shift, the front desk lady, who by now knew me well enough to tease me and share her food with me, joking said “I love you, please come again.” I smiled and joked back, but it felt warm inside. This was such an organic volunteering opportunity that came knocking on my door, and all I did was to ask for permission. I hope everyone can find a little something in their life that they can participate in as a volunteer, it doesn’t have to be structured nor do you even have to have a title. As long as it’s something you love, it will love you back.
I’m starting this week off with a pasta recipe inspired by a friend at church. I love avocados. I would eat them by the spoonful, add them in my sandwiches, make guacamole, etc. Why not mix them into pasta? This seemed like a natural thing waiting to happen, and the best thing is, it takes less than 30 minutes to make a whole batch for your weeknight dinners!
Recipe credited to: Joshua Tsau
- 2 large avocados, diced
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- cooked corn, 1/2 cup
Mix all ingredients together and mash the avocado thoroughly until you like the consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. A dash of hot sauce if your heart desires.
Cook pasta to al dente according to instruction. Mix guacamole into pasta. Voila! Guacamole pasta!