By Elena Ebrahimian DDS 2016
Over the spring break this year, I had the unique opportunity to travel to Nadi, Fiji with 21 other dental students and 13 faculty chaperones to provide free dental care and preventive resources to the people of Moala Village. I was thrilled to be carrying on the legacy that my sister, Ariana, started when she founded this mission as a Pacific dental student in 2007 with fellow classmate Lexie Lyons and alumnus Dr. Karl Brose '72.
What made this trip especially meaningful was being able to share this experience with my family. After working as a dental assistant to both my father and sister in our family’s practice, I imagined the day when I could join them as a fellow doctor. This mission trip was my first experience actually practicing dentistry with my family, and it was a very special moment to me. I was very grateful to have their support, encouragement, and advice throughout the week, and enjoyed sharing in a new cultural experience with them.
As a whole group, we accomplished a great deal of dentistry. Of the 379 patients treated, we completed 628 extractions, 751 operative surfaces, and seven root canals. Everyone worked together as a team and brought a positive attitude, which made all the difference.
One of the things that had the greatest impact on me occurred on our last day in Moala when one of the female leaders of the village described the impact we had on them, how their government recognized and appreciated the services we provided, how they saw an improvement in the health and lives of their people, and how grateful they were for our service to them. It made me realize the true magnitude of our work and how our mission trip really encompassed the seven core values of Pacific Dugoni: humanism, innovation, leadership, reflection, stewardship, collaboration and philanthropy. I feel so fortunate to have my family be a part of the larger Pacific Dugoni family, and I can’t wait to return to Moala next year as a third year trip leader to continue this tradition of service to others.