Reflecting on Study Abroad: Lenny Buller

Lenny Buller
Lenny Buller

By Megan Schulte, student study abroad ambassador

Our final feature in the Reflecting on Study Abroad: 18 of the Last 9 series features Lenny Buller, an orthopedic surgery resident physician who has been transformed personally and professionally by his study abroad experiences in Costa Rica and Honduras and his other international work experiences.

During his time at Miami, Buller spent two summers doing volunteer work internationally. First, he spent a summer in Costa Rica promoting youth leadership development. The next summer, he worked with a non-profit GPO in Honduras promoting community health, working on sustainable ways to create cement floors and water storage. Post-grad, Buller also traveled to the Kingdom of Bhutan for a month, teaching local orthopaedic surgeons.

Eye-Opening Experiences

Buller describes his time abroad during college as, “extremely enriching. Coming from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and having limited international experience, it was the first time that I had experienced living in a Latin American culture. This included living with a family who spoke a completely different language, and more significantly, living in a part of the world that didn’t have running water or electricity and had dirt floors. This was all eye-opening. You don’t realize as a young person that that’s the reality of a lot of people’s lives. So that was extremely valuable and motivational, and it helped me pursue a career in medicine in order to try and make a difference.”

Buller also encountered more eye-opening experiences during a personal trip to Europe he took after graduating from Miami. He described it as a humbling trip where he realized just exactly how big the world is. He said that people often get caught up in the little bubbles around them, “and you realize that there are so many people out there doing so many different things, and it’s just so refreshing to see all that is out there."

Professional Development

Buller said that he first considered international work right before going abroad. “It wasn’t something, growing up, that was necessarily a passion. It kind of developed at Miami when I was exposed to those options. One of my friends had done something similar, and I thought that I wanted to try it as well,” Buller said.

Once he did get the opportunity to study and volunteer abroad, Buller describes his time abroad as, “the foundation of what motivated me to pursue a career in medicine and try to make an impact globally on health outcomes. I realized that the more I am able to learn and the more skills I have, the more valuable I am to teaching people and helping people internationally. So now that I am almost done with my education, I am able to go somewhere where no one else has this knowledge disseminate such extremely valuable information, which is pretty cool.”

Coolest Abroad Story

During our interview, I inquired about what Buller’s coolest experience during his times abroad has been, and I was not disappointed by his answer. His story involved his trip to Bhutan where he visited a Buddhist temple in the Himalayas, away from all other civilization.

“On the weekends I would go on these hikes into the mountain, and I would hike for 6 or 7 hours in the middle of nowhere. I would see some yaks walking around and that was it. And then I would get to this thousand-year-old Buddhist temple where kids have been learning to be Buddhist monks for thousands of years,” Buller described.

Buller once visited one of these Buddhist temples with his Buddhist host physician, and they chatted with the monks over butter tea and learned all about their different perspectives. During this particular visit, Buller also had the unique opportunity to play a game of soccer with the monks on their soccer field at the top of the mountain. Buller had a big smile on his face during our interview the entire time he was telling this story as he reflected back on the pleasant memories.

Final Thoughts

When asked for his parting thoughts on study abroad, Buller said, “I think everyone who has the opportunity to study abroad should give it a shot. You can always come home; no one says you have to stay. But I think giving it a try and seeing what’s out there is so enriching and valuable, even if it’s tough to find time, money, and resources to go.”

Buller said the lessons that he learned abroad greatly affected himself as a person. He says that without these experiences, he doesn’t believe he would be the same person that he is today. After my interview with Buller, I would say that he turned out to be an incredibly successful, thoughtful individual who is ready to serve the world, and we all have Miami University Education Abroad to thank for that.

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