Smile Stories

Meet 8 students from the 2022 medical mission cohort to Panama and Paraguay

Edited and compiled by Dena Salehipour

Ethan Richlak, a university student form Cleveland, Ohio, leaves Panama ready to share his inspiring journey with his fellow clubmates and Cleft Connect members. He has seen the impact that donations make and is ready to use that to further enhance his team’s fundraising efforts. 

They didn’t speak the same language, but when Aashka Shah got a hug from a little friend during a medical program in Panama, it was clear to her that their connection transcended their language barrier.

After attending a surgical program as a student volunteer in Asuncion, Paraguay, Reagan Heller looks at balloons differently.

In Panama, Daphne Luciano got to meet the people she was rooting for back in Scarsdale, New York.

Hugs, balloons, bubbles, tears — student volunteer Cassidy Lee got a real taste of Operation Smile magic during her time at a surgical program in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Elinor Nylander always knew that through her work with Operation Smile she was making an impact. But seeing it, feeling it, living it — that made her realize just how much. 

Katey Coleman would have never thought that something as simple as a high five would mean so much to her, but her time in Panama changed that. 

Quinn Henry never cries, but when the student volunteer heard the news that her little friend Maria had gotten surgery, she just couldn’t help it.