Nothing can stop Sarah Owens from seeing the world. Owens, a double major in dietetics and Spanish at Missouri State, has visited a total of seven countries and has taken advantage of two study away trips sponsored by the dietetics department.
"Getting cultural experience helps me to understand not only the people of the nations I’ve visited, but other people as well; even those from my own country,” said Owens. “Traveling forces you to keep an open mind and you eventually learn to apply that to everything you do.”
Owens was able to have two very different experiences in the countries of El Salvador and Greece.
In El Salvador, Owens and her classmates traveled to several rural elementary schools helping Convoy of Hope hand out supplies and teach children basic lessons about proper hygiene practices.
Another highlight of Owens trip to El Salvador was working with a nutritionist to measure childrens’ heights, weights and arm circumferences to determine whether the children were getting enough to eat.
Educating and providing care to undernourished children was an eye-opening experience for Owens. “In the U.S., we don’t see that type of problem very much, but in developing countries like El Salvador, it’s a major health concern,” said Owens. “It was a great experience and it taught us all so much about being in the community and being faced with such a huge problem.”
Owens trip to Greece combined class knowledge with travel. Students toured the country while studying the influences of food in the Greek culture, history and culture shock.
While in Greece, Owens learned to be more accepting of food habits, practices and preferences in other countries. “I no longer immediately reject new foods or cultural ideas that I probably would have, if I had no traveling experience,” she added.
After Owens graduates from the program and completes her internship program, she plans on getting her master’s degree and working in a clinical setting or opening up her own practice. “I hope that I can help take dietitians out of the hospital and make them more accessible to the public,” said Owens.