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Wesleyan Bruhns Scholar spends summer in Madagascar

Submitted photo Casey Stallman with a lemur in Madagascar.

BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College student Casey Stallman participated in a summer study abroad program spending seven weeks in Madagascar. Thanks to a generous gift from Wesleyan friend and alumna Dr. E. Maxine Moose Bruhns, the E. Maxine Moose Bruhns Summer Study Abroad Scholarship provided funding for Stallman and three other students to participate in international educational programs this summer.

Stallman enrolled through the School for International Training to study traditional medicine and healthcare of the region. She is in her senior year at Wesleyan with a major in molecular biology. The Bridgeport native had never traveled outside of the United States before. Stallman stayed with two host families who spoke very little English. Stallman stated, “It was difficult at first, but I am glad I stayed with the families. This aspect of the trip became one of my favorites. My host siblings are now some of my closest friends.”

Throughout the program period, Stallman enrolled in courses in the Malagasy language, social and political dimensions of health and healthcare practice in Madagascar. Only two weeks of the coursework were conducted in a classroom. The remaining time was spent touring healthcare sites and traditional healers.

Focusing on treatments for type 2 diabetes, Stallman learned of medicinal plants which show promising results of treating the disease. She found it interesting that the plants, which grow abundantly in the region, have such promising outcome, yet are not available to others worldwide. Instead she learned that Western cultures have found a way to synthesize it into a pill form which is expensive for patients. She would like to see natural and sustainable treatments available to more people in the future. “As a result of this experience I realized that life is so much bigger,” Stallman stated, “This experience has reaffirmed my commitment to becoming a doctor.”