Yumiko Gely is the current Global Brigades Mizzou Chapter Co-President for the 2015-2016 school year. Yumiko is a Junior studying Biology and Health Sciences here at Mizzou with hopes of joining the Peace Corps and/or Medical School in the future. Gely first joined Global Brigades when she was a freshman and applied to go on a Medical Brigade to Honduras. She ended up participating in a Water Brigade stacked with Medical in 2014, absolutely fell in love with Global Brigades, and wanted to share the experience with others, so Yumiko decided to lead a Medical/Public Health 2015 brigade the following year in Nicaragua.
What was your favorite thing about working in country?
"My favorite thing is definitely getting to know the In-Country staff and local community members! I love to use my Spanish to get to know their culture and their stories."
What was a memory that you made while on the brigade?
"My freshman year, while on my Water Brigade, we were working in community called El Junquillo. While working there, I became very close with a little boy with Special Needs named Pedrito. On the final day of our brigade, after installing all the faucets in the homes, in honor of the completion of the water system in the community there was a fiesta in the local school. As we were preparing to turn on the water faucet at the school to signify the completion, I remember walking towards the faucet with Pedrito. Everyone was gathered around, waiting for the water technician to turn on the faucet. Next think I know, Pedrito was running towards the faucet, turned it on, and started to spray everyone with the clean water. I will absolutely never forget that."
What kind of realizations did you have while on the brigade?
"I realized the importance of cultural exchange. Not only did I learn so much from the community, but the community learned a lot from me and my fellow brigaders as well. The relationships built are relationships that will last a lifetime. Learning to respect someone who is completely different from you is an incredible skill to have."
What was your favorite food served in country?
"Anything, the fresh fruit is amazing, the meat is fresh, and the juice is great!"
What is something funny or odd that happened to you in country?
"Watching 2 of my brigaders teach adults how to use a condom in Spanish as part of our education component during our Medical portion in Nicaragua was hilarious."