After three weeks of technology-free bliss (initially mandatory, but ultimately voluntary), I broke the mold today with, of all things, doing a bit of light thinking and googling for the Medical Knowledge Institute, which has know been added to my list of fundamentally excellent institutions. Founded on the “reverence for life” philosophy of Dr. Albert Schweitzer (who was unforgivably omitted from my education), MKI is one of the few institutions out there that seeks to create enduring change throughout the third world. Unlike for so many (Merck, Pfizer, GSK, missions, etc.), there is no ulterior motive for MKI’s work. They simply believe that a basic medical education is a fundamental human right, and so they seek to provide that through self-perpetuating clinics. It does what we have spent the better part of the century saying that we need to do.

Though wet research owns my heart and soul, dry work hasn’t been this cathartic since those first tentative calculations that led to that paper on classic Mayan agriculture for Dr. Freidel (despite what you may be thinking, crop rotation in the Yucatan was badass. Before the Spanish mucked it up, at least). Of all things, this was prompted by my unerringly lemming-ish inclination to ask questions at conferences. After Japan, you may recall, I held an unhealthy approach towards attempting to speak with older researchers. However, both today’s speaker, Dr. Harold Robles, and the Virginia Tech faculty I encountered at his presentation have provided a powerful antidote to that view. What is more inspiring to a student than to have someone of great skill and passion and experience not only take the time to explain their work, but ask the student their opinion and listen as an equal?

Forgive me for waiting to post about what the exchange was all about, but I do want to see what comes of it first. Come what may, tonight entirely made up for committing the next six months of my life to the MCAT.

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