EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — Confidence is key and a person’s smile can play a big part in that.
Students at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport understand that. Every year for the past 15 years students take a trip to provide underprivileged kids with dental care.
“Your smile is like the most important thing from what we’ve seen you know Mrs. Seebold explains that when she presents the trip over there you instantly see kids smiling and like them and we bring them that dental care and bring them that confidence I mean I feel like that’s even a booster for ourselves you know to see that we’re creating something we’re creating smiles making them better,” explained Elizabeth Oritz a dental student.
For the past six years, they have been creating smiles in the Dominican Republic.
“I feel like every year I just leave a little piece of my heart there because the people are as we said they are so appreciative of what we do and it’s such a needed service these children really don’t have any dental services at all so for us to be able to go in and do some kind of preventive services it just means a lot to them,” added Rhonda Seebold a dental faculty member.
Students here are able to walk away from this experience with so much more than just what they learned in the classroom. They also get to see firsthand the impact a healthy smile can have on a person.
One of Professor Seebold’s students who made the trip early this year says that the trip to the Dominican Republic gave her something she could have never learned in the classroom.
“The trip to the Dominican Republic definitely changed me it gave me the opportunity to look at things outside of what Pennsylvania has to offer for me especially going to a country that doesn’t speak the same language as my opportunity to see people in a way that isn’t regular in your day to day life,” continued Regan Kline a class of 2023 dental program graduate.
One student who has not yet made the trip is looking forward to going next year. She says that coming from a place where dental care is not the best help kids get makes this trip a little more special for her.
“I’m from Mexico so coming from an area that does need like a lot of dental care seeing that they do go to the Dominican to provide that health to kids and communities it’s um, would be a great learning experience for me as well,” says Ortiz
She also looks forward to seeing how they live day to day there.
“Definitely the cultural difference seeing how they you know take the knowledge that we give them and how they’re gonna apply that, ” Ortiz continued.
The children in the Dominican Republic are very grateful for the work these students do, and for the students and staff members that go on the trip, it’s a great feeling to see the kids happy.
“When we look at the children they just say wow these people have come all the way from America to help us. I think it just gives them hope,” said Professor Seebold.
This trip started almost two decades ago when Professor Seebold went on a mission trip to Honduras with her church, there she saw that there was a need for dental care. that’s when she got the idea of making it a trip for her students in hopes that helping these children in need would touch them the way it did her.
“I really want it to also have an impact on my students that go because I want them to um see what it’s like, I just want to inspire them to live a life of service,” Professor Seebold explained.
Regan Kline offers this advice for students making the trip next year.
“Definitely just to be all in. I mean I had no expectations going into the trip and I think that set me up for success just because there was no way for me to be disappointed, I guess you could say so um just putting your whole heart out there is really important,” added Kline.
The work and impact these students have on the children they help is something that will always be with them and that they will remember with a smile.
“In the Dominican Republic, it was definitely something that I feel I’m gonna carry in my heart forever,” says Kline.