Liz Hubbard now knows that compassion is easily translated.

Even the simple act of weighing a baby can be difficult in remote parts of Africa. (Siena)
The senior womens volleyball player spent the summer volunteering for a medical clinic at a Catholic mission in Marigat, Kenya, as a service project for Siena Colleges pre-medicine program. Hubbard is majoring in Biology in the highly competitive program, which selects just 12-15 students per year and guarantees acceptance to the University of Albanys medical school upon graduation from Siena. A benefit of the program is the opportunity to go anywhere in the world where there is a lot of need and Hubbard decided to journey to this African nation where the HIV/AIDS virus runs rampant.

Hubbard was one of three Siena students that traveled to Kenya, and was joined by a classmate on the mission in Marigat. She served at a clinic managed by Sister Martina, a Kenya native who is a nun and a nurse, and despite being limited from a medical standpoint, Hubbard pitched in any way she could.

We would weigh babies, we helped keep the books, and take the blood pressure of expectant mothers, said Hubbard. We did any basic work we could do like cleaning, and we also did a lot of observation.

The two-time captain and four-year starting middle blocker did, however, experience much more at the Kenyan clinic than she ever could in the classroom.

We learned some medical procedures just by watching, but mostly we learned how you interact with patients in the clinic and out in the community, said Hubbard. You want to make sure you find out everything you need to know about how theyre living. You approach it from all sides, not just their physical health.

Hubbard, who was a dedicated community service worker growing up in Newark, Del., was especially in awe of how Sister Martina related to the patients that visited the clinic and in the surrounding areas, where most of the natives live in mud and thatch huts.

She is amazing, said Hubbard. She goes out in the community to see if people need mattresses or food or milk " she will find a way to get people what they need.

Although English is one of the countrys official languages, along with Swahili, once Hubbard and her classmates traveled outside of the major cities, communication was not that easy.

When you get into rural areas, there are so many different local languages, said Hubbard. In our little town alone, there were five or six local languages and luckily people who worked in the clinic could speak one or two or up to four of them. It was really a problem when we would drive into more rural areas.

A main focus of the missions clinic is combating HIV/AIDS, where there are believed to be over 100 patients suffering from the virus around Marigat.

Every Monday, 30-35 of these patients would come to the mission all day and meet with the doctors and Sister Martina, and get their medication, said Hubbard. They would have lunch together, and we would distribute food to them in the afternoons, so that every time they took their medicine they would be able to eat.

Regardless of whether they were sick or poor, Hubbard found the Kenyan people to be friendly and generous.

Everyone we met was so kind, and they love Americans, said Hubbard. They were so interested to learn about where we lived, and what we thought of Kenya. They always welcomed us into their homes. People who had next to nothing would offer us food when we came into their homes.

Hubbard decided to go to medical school early in high school, and her trip to Kenya only helped to enforce her aspirations for the future. I think I would like to be a general practitioner, because I want have a base of patients that I interact with on a regular basis, said Hubbard. I think you really need to know your patient and where theyre coming from because so many things impact your health.

And, thats something Hubbard didnt need a text book or a translator to learn.