MUSE School Educating Beyond Boundaries

The MUSE School in Calabasas Founders Suzy Amis Cameron and Rebecca Amis and faculty believe today’s students need outside opportunities to help them see how sharing their lives, skills, talents, and passions can truly impact others. They believe students’ anxieties about the future and the world they will soon lead can best be alleviated by real-world interactions. To that end, they’ve created a cross-cultural human rights program as part of their curriculum. For the past seven years, the school also partnered with Mending Kids, which provides life-saving surgical care for children across the globe while promoting medical sufficiency within communities.

Mending Kids Executive Director Isabelle Fox helps form global alliances, building a bridge between doctors, schools, and communities in need. When the Moore Pediatric Center in Guatemala City reached out to Mending Kids for support, a team was deployed including MUSE students from grades 10 through 12 currently enrolled in the Human Rights program. Jeffrey Martin, who coordinates the program and teaches humanities courses at MUSE, oversaw the students. Dr. Namrata Varma, DO, pediatric otolaryngologist, from Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Long Beach, served as lead surgeon during Mending Kids’ annual ear, nose, and throat (ENT) mission. A dedicated group of surgeons, anesthesiologists, operating room personnel, and recovery nurses completed the team.

Mr. Martin explains, “On these missions, I get to see my students adapt and create, communicate and collaborate, and work through challenges and comfort-zone limitations that can only occur outside the classroom in a real-world setting. We all learn, myself especially, that service to others is challenging. These missions have changed my perspective on what it means to be an educator and how to connect with and value each individual student. The learning and growth that occurs on these trips transfers back to the classroom in confidence, stronger voices, and community. We also learn a tremendous amount about medicine, access to health care, and the culture and people of Guatemala.”

Former student and program participant Tania Nasrallah— currently attending UCLA with a double major in anthropology and sociology—explains how that experience informed both her college studies and career choice. “It was amazing. The most touching part for me was talking to patients’ parents. Since I was able to speak a bit of Spanish, I could relay much-appreciated messages about their children’s operation and recovery. I went back to Guatemala this summer to study archaeology and all of those great memories from my MUSE trip came rushing back.” The other student participants noted equally positive experiences.

This year, after screening over 123 patients, the schedule included 101 planned surgical procedures. During the week, several students played with kids prior to their surgeries, while others entered data for the hospital and Mending Kids. Students sorted supplies and put together gift bags for patients. They rotated through operating and recovery rooms to learn from and support the doctors and nurses. They collaboratively paid it forward, always gaining more than they gave. The MUSE students truly make a difference while sharing amazing experiences they’ll treasure throughout their lives.

“Being with the kids is always a blessing and puts a smile on my face. Special thank you to Mending Kids and Jeffrey!” -– Ben Sie