In the Spring of 2012 I began a year long intro-intensive course on Western herbalism taught by the great Jim McDonald. From some of the other students I heard about an opportunity to visit Nicaragua in November of that year, for a two week workshop that included courses on herbalism taught by indigenous healers and Western clinical herbalists, visits to local businesses and care facilities involved in the herbal medicine field, and culminating in four days volunteering in a natural medicine clinic that provides free care to the citizens of Ometepe, an island in Lake Nicaragua.
On this trip I got to see a community of people keeping alive the teachings of their ancestors, got to meet a midwife who uses plant medicine with her patients, got to tour the inner-workings of an herbal medicine company and see how their products go from seed to raw material to shelf-ready, and got to observe the clinical process as patients arrived to receive natural remedies for all manner of malady. I also went on plant walks, attended interesting lectures, and had fun cultural experiences along the way. A few months after I returned home I made the decision to attend acupuncture school.