This website represents the works of students in Jeffrey Brody's International Reporting, from the College of Communications at California State University, documenting a medical mission in Guatemala with Refuge International in March 2014.

The students traveled all across the Guatemalan country side documenting both the richest and poorest parts of Guatemala in a period of almost two weeks.


An Unexpected Hero

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A patient touches the lives of Refuge International

Photography and reporting by Alvin Kim

What inspires you

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Find out why the volunteers at refuge international do what they do

Video by Kaleigh Krish

Making do

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Refuge International finds creative ways to use what is on hand to help patients

Video by Kristin Goodwillie

The children of guatemala

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The children of Guatemala face a failing healthcare system

Video by Kristin Goodwillie

Tikal National Park

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Take a tour of Tikal national park, which is famous for its Mayan pyramids.

Videos by Kristin Goodwillie and Gurajpalpreet Sangha

Capuchin Convent

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A convent, which is nearly 300 years old, has become an architectural icon in Antigua Guatemala.

Video by Abraham Williams

The team

Letter from Professor Jeffrey Brody

    Take a group of students to the cities, jungles and mountains of Guatemala, and what could go wrong? Malaria, dysentery, snakebite, robbery; I better not go on for fear of never being allowed to take students again. I mention this not to alarm you but to inform you of the challenges these students faced.

    The international journalism class can best be characterized as the most daring students in the university, an elite group of broadcast, print and photo journalists willing to test their abilities outside of the California comfort zone, the affluent bubble known as Orange County.

    These 12 students went to one of the poorest countries in the world. A place where toilets cannot be flushed with paper.

    A land that lacks clean water. An area where few tourists ever wander. At one point in the trip, for example, we were in a village so remote that the only access is by water. There are no roads anywhere – just dirt paths.

    Yet despite these discomforts, the students thrived.

    Abraham, Gurajpalpreet, Kaleigh, Kristen, and Megan produced stunning videos. Elizabeth, Ethan, Kym, Nereida and Yvette wrote magnificent stories displayed in this issue and Alvin and William documented the trip with penetrating photos. Their work is about the people of Guatemala and Refuge International, a Texas-based group of dedicated physicians, nurses and dentists that operates several clinics in the mountains and jungles to treat and relieve the suffering of indigenous Guatemalans.

    The students assisted in the mission and served as a communications team to record and tell the story of Refuge International. They surprised the group with their early morning yoga, led by Kym, and their enthusiasm to take on any project. I was so proud to see them work 12-15 hour days.

    They put in shifts packing pills, translating, assisting the medical personnel and then worked on their journalism, often editing late into the night.

    I never heard one complaint about the food; the living conditions, the cold showers, the heat, the humidity or the grueling bus travel. Loaded with equipment, they often carried a third of their weight. No one grimaced when they were told after trekking through a muddy field to visit a rural school that they should probably take medication to combat intestinal hookworms.

    They didn’t because they were in pursuit of stories. Stories that wouldn’t be told without boots on the ground. They were learning how to be foreign correspondents and the less glamorous but most important aspects of reporting. They had to reach the women in pain and in need of hernia repairs and hysterectomies. They had to see the children who needed medication to rid themselves of parasites and worms, and visit the villages that Refuge International aided by digging wells to produce clean water. In this website, you will see that they accomplished this mission.

    Our thanks go to Deb Bell and Nancy Neuman of Refuge International who served as gracious hosts. The team that they have assembled from all over the United States is truly a remarkable group of dedicated medical personnel and volunteers. Their altruistic nature is an inspiration, their dedication to helping the poor is outstanding, their willingness to travel to a distant land and work without pay in grueling conditions is praiseworthy. They served as an example to my students.

    At the end of the day, the students not only learned to be better journalists. They learned to be what is called in Yiddish, a Mensch, a person of integrity and honor, a person of noble character.

I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.

- Henry Luce -