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I will walk the 800-km (500-mi) Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain as an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth towards a medical career.
Pailin Chiaranunt
Wooster, Ohio
United States
1 Team Member

Above: Movie trailer for The Way (2010) - an inspiring film about one man's emotional and spiritual journey on the Camino de Santiago.

Here is a pilgrim's experience of the Camino de Santiago, at the TEDxAkron Conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwISUaYgBB4&playnext=1&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rM9ajKbPvHW2J2uxDl2z1V2

About This Campaign

This summer, from May 15th to June 19th, I will walk the 800-km (500-mi) Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across Spain as an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth, in hopes of becoming a physician who better understands the world and the struggles of a patient.

I hope to raise funds to cover the cost of this trip.  Any amount is greatly appreciated, and you may also choose to receive "perks", as listed on the right.  Alternatively, you can share this page to friends and family.

Thank you very much for your help and generosity!

A Crossroads in Life

My name is Pailin Chiaranunt, and I am currently in my junior year at the College of Wooster in Ohio, double majoring in Biochemistry & Philosophy as I prepare for medical school.  I have come a long way from my home in Thailand, and as I enter my senior year, I will face another big crossroads in life: where do I go from here, what do I want to do for the rest of my life, what is important to me?  It is my dream to become a physician and member of Doctors Without Borders, to work in the field and directly help those who are most in need.  However, a good physician, especially one who works in the field, must understand the pains and struggles of the patient, be it physical pain, mental strains, or even financial or socioeconomic hardships.  Thus, I have been yearning for an experience that can expose me to conditions akin to physical and mental hardships, such that I may learn to empathize with those who suffer in such situations every day.  I choose to embark on an 800-km pilgrimage across Spain in order to experience such physical and mental struggles and, at the same time, reflect on my future and identity.

Working as a Unite for Sight volunteer in Chennai, India, summer 2012.

I worked as a Unite for Sight volunteer in Chennai, India, summer 2012. The experience strengthened my conviction to become a physician for non-profits like Doctors Without Borders.  You can read more about my experience in India at my blog: http://pailin-in-india.tumblr.com/

The Camino and the Pilgrim

My History professor, Prof. Hettinger, and her husband, George V., introduced me to the Camino de Santiago, eventually inspiring me to embark on the journey myself.  The Camino Frances, one of the many routes to Santiago, starts at St. Jean Pied de Port in France and ends at Santiago de Compostella in northwestern Spain, where, legend has it, St. James is buried.  The Camino has been regarded as a deeply spiritual and transformative experience since the 8th century and now serves as a way for thousands of pilgrims, from all walks of life and from various countries, to attain personal growth, find their identities, or become one with nature, among many other reasons.  A pilgrim would walk from dawn to dusk, resting at hostels and monasteries each night in a new village, all the while having the time for either quiet solitary reflection or sharing interesting stories with fellow pilgrims.

Map of the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances)

Map of the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances). http://www.spain-holiday.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/caminofrances3.gif

The Journey

I believe the Camino de Santiago will provide me with a first-hand experience of the physical and mental hardships that help mold a good physician.  Unlike working with a healthcare non-profit, here, I get to experience, to some extent, what the patient experiences: physical pain from a disease and the resulting mental strains, for example.  I understand that a pilgrimage cannot help me truly grasp the meaning of pain or struggle, but at least I will be able to better empathize with future patients and their hardships.  

Additionally, this pilgrimage has been known, for centuries, for providing the time, space, and environment conducive for self-reflection and seeking answers to personal struggles.  Not only will the trail challenge me physically, it will also provoke thought and reflection through the walking and the simple way of life.

My plan is to walk the Camino de Santiago from May 15th to June 19th.  Each day will consist of walking, from dawn to dusk, interacting with fellow pilgrims, and resting at a hostel or local house in a village along the route.

Along the way, I will keep an extensive journal, in which I will detail my daily thoughts, reflections, and events in hopes of gaining more insight into myself and the world.  I will post some of the entries and photographs on my blog, which will be pasted here once it is ready after the trip.

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. http://media.lonelyplanet.com/lpi/25880/25880-8/681x454.jpg


Although my journey will be a simple and non-extravagrant one, I am looking for ways to raise funds to cover transportation and equipment costs.  More specifically, I hope to at least cover the $1,150 plane ticket to France and back, the $100 train ticket from Paris to St. Jean Pied de Port (the starting site), the $150 plane ticket from Santiago de Compostella to Paris (where my return flight is), and the cost of equipment, such as hiking backpack, boots, poles, etc.

The Camino might not be the typical internship or volunteer program that most college students undertake, but I believe it will be a much more transformative and life-changing experience than what a supervised, systematic program can offer.  Indeed, I choose to embark on this pilgrimage over summer research or internships partly because of the freedom, the unique challenges, and, of course, the invaluable life lessons that the journey will bring.

Thus, I hope that you will consider supporting me and my journey, either financially or by sharing this page.  Any amount is greatly appreciated.  Thank you very much for your help, and I will keep you updated!

I hope you will take the time to watch the amazing TEDxAkron talk that I have posted at the top of this page!  And I hope that you will one day embark on this journey as well.  Buen Camino!

Here's the link to the TedxAkron talk again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwISUaYgBB4&playnext=1&list=PLsRNoUx8w3rM9ajKbPvHW2J2uxDl2z1V2.

"Anatomy of a Pilgrim"

"Anatomy of a Pilgrim." http://www.stjames-cathedral.org/prayer/images/Pilgrim-Dissection.gif

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This campaign ended on June 21, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $25USD

    A postcard from Santiago de Compostela, personalized just for you!

    2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $50USD

    A postcard (as described above) and, if you wish, your name will be acknowledged in all subsequent works (e.g. presentations, journals, etc.) I do regarding this journey.

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $100USD

    All of the above, plus a souvenir from Northern Spain. Some examples are: jewelry, fans, ceramic/glass works, pottery, etc. Let me know your preferences!

    1 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
  • $300USD
    Buen Camino!

    All of the above, plus a bottle of Spanish or French wine and a personalized, print and bound copy of my journal, with photographs, from my pilgrimage. Let me know your wine preferences!

    0 claimed
    Estimated delivery: August 2013
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