Smith Finds Solitude, Passion for Service in the Jungle

Cambray Smith has participated in several service trips throughout her lifetime. Now she is preparing for her second Alternative Service Break experience in Ecuador. She said her first trip to (Chanta Punto) Ecuador was an eye-opening experience, as her group partnered with Timmy Global Health.

“I think just noting the lack of basic healthcare infrastructure within a country that actually has free healthcare available for its people (was interesting),” she said. “Healthcare was not at all accessible to most of the people, especially (those) living in poverty.”

Cambray, a sophomore, hopes to become a doctor one day. The Nutrition Science (Pre-med) & International Studies double major is currently serving as president of the NC State Timmy Global Health chapter.

“It was a great opportunity to interact with people whose lives are very different from our own,” she said. “It was a really good chance to grow in service and kind of that humble desire to make life a little bit better and easier for other people.”

Recalling how eye-opening her experience was, Cambray excitingly says “First of all the jungle, being completely surrounded by nature was a really cool experience. You look everywhere and there are trees; there are plants.”

“It’s definitely a very isolated area with people who are two hours away from a city with absolutely no transportation.” she says.

Being in such a remote location was just part of the unique experience. Smith says that the geographical challenges make it difficult for the Ecuadorian government to impact healthcare in areas that are not connected by sufficient infrastructure.

The Alternative Service Break (ASB) program is a unique learning experience in which students engage in direct service to a community, while being immersed in its culture and customs.

Cambray speaks on her takeaways from her first experience. “I think the biggest thing about ASB, both on the student end and the leader end is the idea of service learning.”

Through these ASB experiences students are affected in many different ways on a personal level.

“I’m really interested in women’s health and one of the things that always kind of strikes me is that here we are in a completely different location, and here are girls who are my age maybe with two or three kids already, and I get to have an education. I get to have some degree of freedom over my future; I get to decide what I want to be, what I want to study, and how I want to spend my time,” she said.

Transitioning from a participant to a trip leader, Cambray will lead this trip to Santo Domingo.

The Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service will send over 15 teams to various during spring break to engage in service.

To learn more about NC State ASB, visit


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