Closing Words: Pendry

I don’t think that words can fully describe this course overall for me. It was by far the most incredible experience of my life. I learned so much about diabetes, how to prevent and manage it, what causes it, and the socioeconomic and cultural factors that influence the disease and its progression. So much of my learning was done through experience. I learned about the diabetic foot from a podiatrist in Nassau and went right to doing diabetic foot assessments at the nursing homes. By doing glucose testing in the field, I got the chance to find the person’s level and explain to them what it meant.

Every day felt like a new adventure for me in the Bahamas! I got to do so many things I have never tried before. The kayaking and camping trip was all new territory for me and I learned how to roll out of a kayak, cook over open flames, and even got a lesson on navigating by stars. On our way back to Island School we all rafted up and Jay asked for a volunteer to crawl across the kayaks. I took the chance! I got to crawl across all the kayaks, jump in the water, crawled back across them, and got back into my kayak. It felt so awesome to try something I had never done before and be successful!

I loved that fact that we were always around people who would share some bit of knowledge or wisdom with us. I could learn about marine biology or ecology from just about anyone and I learned a ton about sustainability from Island School and CEI. The Island School was a great home base for us, and it was awesome to meet so many people there from all over the world!

More than just learning academically, I gained a new perspective on life in general. Whenever I would ask people how their day was going I would get a reply along the lines of “Oh I’m blessed! Thank God for life!” Sometimes I would hear this from people who had next to nothing. The people there just showed me to be thankful for life and everything that it brings me.

Hmmm, what would I say to a student thinking about taking this course? Let me think…DO IT! This course is a once in a lifetime opportunity that brings you back rich with knowledge and experience that nothing else can compare to. I learned so much about type 2, the Bahamas, and myself. Janet and Jay did a wonderful job fostering an environment that was conducive to both learning and growth for all of us. They encouraged me to try new things and keep an open mind, which were key things for this trip. I am so so very thankful to have been a part of this amazing experience, and I would recommend this course to anyone.

As a whole, this class and the whole experience brought me back to the US with a new perspective on life. I had so many opportunities to grow and learn more about myself. I think one of the biggest things I learned was to cherish every moment I have. At Island School I met a man from Nigeria who reminded me that passion is what drives life and what we do. He told me to do what I’m passionate about because without passion driving me, I’m not going to be satisfied. I also learned that it’s perfectly okay not to have a set in stone plan for your life because sometimes you’re meant to do something different and be brave enough to take a right turn or two.

Closing Words: Miranda

Overall, this trip was a truly amazing experience. I thought the course had a great balance of both academic and exploration experiences because we got to do what we set out to do by raising awareness to the different people of the Bahamas all while having a blast experiencing the sights and activities the fun location of The Bahamas brings. Aside from all of the medical testing and terminology related to diabetes that I’ve picked up, throughout the trip I’ve learned many things that I hope to keep with me and use during the rest of my life. I’ve learned that people come first; it’s the conversation with the individual that you will remember more than the number you are testing. I’ve also learned to be more patient. When things didn’t quite go according to plan, I learned to shake it off and let myself think it’s okay and we’ll work through it. Also, I’ve learned that although I can be a quiet person, I like to be up in front of a group and share my knowledge with students. When I first began the presentations I was quite nervous, but as I got more comfortable I really started to enjoy talking and interacting with the kids. Some of my favorite memories were at the schools—seeing their faces light up when we gave them attention and just had conversations with them was such a gift to experience.

If I had advice to give a student thinking about taking this course in the future, I’d say just do it. This little phrase can help out with practically any situation. The more things you allow yourself to participate in, the more great experiences and memories you will have. Even when I was tired and didn’t feel like doing some things that the group was doing, I told myself that I didn’t want to miss out because I wanted every experience that I could possibly have.

Although I feel that I am still the same person I was before the trip, I can confidently say that I know more about myself because I had this experience. Being away from home for a month is a very long time—the longest that I have ever spent away from my family and friends. This trip has made me realize that I am more of an independent person than I thought. I’ve always loved traveling, and this adventure leaves me wanting more. I know now that I can be far away from home and can still be okay and focused on the task at hand. I’ve also grown to appreciate interacting with people. In The Bahamas, everyone is so friendly and kind-hearted and they truly care about how you are doing; I want to bring that feeling back home and remember that feeling as long as I can.

All in all, this was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am so thankful that I was chosen to be a part of it. I’m ready to go back! Same time next year??

Closing Words: Casey

How can I even begin to describe this course in one final blog post? It was memorable in so many ways and I am happy that I got to experience the Bahamian culture with this group of students and the two wonderful professors that we had leading us. Obviously, I had never taken a class in another country, and I was unsure on how I would adjust to this new challenge. It turned out to be the greatest trip that I have ever been on. These last four weeks have provided the perfect balance of academics and enjoyable adventures. The majority of our time was spent doing diabetes outreach education to over 200 students ranging from 3rd grade to high school on the island of Eleuthera. By teaching these students about diabetes prevention, and the consequences that can arise from diabetes, we as teachers also got to learn so many new things about this global epidemic. Along with the teaching aspect of the course, we spent time putting on wellness fairs for various communities on the island. This allowed us to check things like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and other general health factors and then gave them checkup sheets that they could give to their nurse or doctor. It gave us all such a good feeling inside knowing what a difference we were making in the world by helping citizens in rural areas fight this silent, killer disease.

Of course, we had to fit a little bit of fun into this trip so we didn’t go crazy! Between snorkeling above beautiful reefs, laying out on pink sand beaches, and going on an amazing three day kayak trip down the coast, I feel we accomplished our goals of “fun”. Without having some of this down time built in, it would be really difficult to stay focused on our objectives the entire trip. By the end we would have all felt pretty worn out and not been able to provide adequate presentations in the classrooms that we were lucky enough to teach in. To travel all the way to The Bahamas and not enjoy some of the amenities that these beautiful islands have to offer would just be ludicrous. This trip allowed me to see who I am right now, and who I could be in the future. It opened my eyes, touched my heart, and showed me that sometimes, there are more important things in life than money. If a student were to ask me whether or not they should take this course I would probably tell them that if they are interested in outreach education or experiencing a completely new culture and lifestyle than this is the course for them. It is a trip that nobody would want to miss out on. I have absolutely no regrets from taking this course and can say with complete honesty that I am a better person now that I got to experience this beautiful country in this context. Thank you to all who kept up with reading our blog! Carpe Diem everyone!

Closing Words: D-Lee

When people ask me how my trip was my response is always the same, “It was the best time of my life, I want to go back”. That’s pretty much all there is to say. I feel like we did a lot of good things for the communities that we were apart of for the month. In the first few days on Nassau we toured clinics, nursing homes, and a soup kitchen asking questions to get a better idea of how health care in the Bahamas was different from that of the US. Although a difference in technology was distinguishable, the Bahamians were getting cared for with the same or more compassion that we give. I was excited to learn about and administer foot examinations. On Eleuthera our focus was educating the people of the Bahamas about the risk factors, complications, prevention techniques, and disease itself. We visited a number of primary and secondary schools and put on a handful of wellness fairs to get the word out to people that Diabetes is a real thing that is becoming more common. I think it is important to note that the children of the Bahamas seemed to be more responsive to the advice we were giving than the adults. I don’t know if this surprised me, but I am hopeful that the youth will make changes to decrease the number of diabetes diagnoses in years to come.

Our free time was spent making a number of unforgettable memories and connections. We spent the first weekend on Eleuthera with a host family. I could not be happier with my placement. Casey and I made some friends that we are still in contact with via Facebook. Gwen, our host mom, treated us like kings and I wont ever be able to thank her enough. We visited a beautiful botanical garden and learned about the native bush medicine of the Bahamas. During the second weekend on Eleuthera we were able to participate in a countrywide festival, Jr. Junkanoo. Pictures tell the story better than I can but they still don’t do it justice. Our two and a half day kayak trip is also too exciting for words. I swam with five spotted eagle rays in a blue hole and one of them was nearly as wide as my wing span (6’6.5”)! Those activities only took up our “scheduled free time”. I spend our free time free time doing the best snorkeling of my life on some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen, meeting a ton of new people each from a different place, and making countless memories with my fellow compatriots. I am a sucker for sunsets. I think 85% of the pictures I took on this trip are of a sunset. Something about them makes me feel good inside and out. Let me tell you I was feeling good the whole entire trip. My fellow trip mates couldn’t stop me from singing songs of joy daily. I had my own chair over there at sunset beach and was in it every night I could be to watch the sun go down before dinner. I will miss those sunsets.

In closing, I had the best time of my life over there on the small island of Eleuthera and I can’t wait to go back. I fell in love with everything about island life. This experience sparked an interest in me to travel more. I feel that each journey I take outside of the US makes me a more well rounded individual. I can’t wait to see what the next adventure has to offer. If I were to offer some advice to others thinking about studying abroad it would be; Say yes to every thing but drugs. This means go into the journey with an open mind. Try to meet as many people as possible. Learn about them and how they came to be. Experience everything you possibly can (that is morally acceptable) while on the trip even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. You have to do these things because you never know when you will get the opportunity again.

Closing Words: Hannah

I really enjoyed my trip to the Bahamas. I learned a wealth of knowledge about many things in addition to diabetes. Going into the course I could only expect so much because I have never been to the Bahamas and have never done diabetes education. While in the Bahamas I learned how to adapt to cultural differences, how to teach at different developmental levels, and to be flexible. I really liked that I had the opportunity to learn a lot about the Bahamian culture and the marine life. As a nursing student I encounter many patients with diabetes. I was intrigued and excited at this unique learning experience to learn more about the diabetes and prevention methods. My favorite learning experience was when I got to work with a podiatrist and do diabetic foot assessments. I was able to ask Dr. Mitchell many questions and have her show me techniques for caring for diabetic’s feet. It was an awesome experience and I would love to do it again!

While studying abroad the best techniques and or advice I would give to another student would be to be open minded, forget about sticking to a schedule (be flexible), try new things, do something that makes you uncomfortable, and talk to people that make you nervous. I got the most out of my trip because I did so many things that were outside of my comfort zone such as eating a termite, kayaking, talking to intimidating professors that have PhD’s, and eating things I normally would never try. Teaching at times was also out of my comfort zone but I worked with my team members and always had a game plan. The other important advice I would give would be to go with the flow. I never knew what to expect every time we taught so having the ability to go with the flow was beneficial. I would highly recommend that other students take the chance to study abroad. I would also suggest that they take a course that is new to them. On our trip we had a Mass Communication major and she brought a lot to our group and learning environment because she had different skill sets than those of us with health backgrounds. Although it was a course that I had some knowledge in I would take it again because it is so beneficial to me as a student.

I also want to say thank you to all my classmates and both professors. Each person taught me something new and how to look at situations from different perspectives. Thank you Janet and Jay for letting us have an open learning environment and not turning down our questions no matter how silly they may have seemed. This course is certainly beneficial to Linfield students.

Closing Words: Kendra

I cannot explain or describe well enough how incredibly amazing this course was, it was honestly the best month of my life and I already wish I was back because I miss it so much. Academically, I learned so much in terms of the nursing and teaching elements, and I learned a lot about the Bahamian culture. In my exploration experiences, I learned a lot about myself and feel I have grown as a person for the better, from those experiences. Some of my top and most favorite highlights from the trip was probably visiting the glass window, scuba diving, the home-stay visit, Junior Junkanoo and the wellness fairs, specifically the one we had at the baseball game in Rock Sound. They were by far the most beautiful and fun experiences I had on the entire trip.

One of the best things about the trip that I liked was meeting all these new people who taught me so much and knew so much. It was the most interesting and memorable experiences I had during this trip, because those stories I was told by various people, will stick with me for the rest of my life. I learned to take chances and risks by doing something new or out of your comfort zone. I learned that material things in life are not important but the relationships you build with people are. I learned to be more laid-back and worry less about the little things that don’t really matter in the long run.

For future students who decide to take this course, I would say that come into this entire month with no preconceptions because then you can experience everything fully and go into everything with a positive attitude and open mind, because I found that made my experience that much better. I also would says take every opportunity you are given, because the ones you are usually unsure about tend to be the best experiences. Lastly, I would say to future students, have fun and enjoy yourself and everything you do because it is gone before you know it and it is an experience you will always miss and want to go back to.

I learned a lot about myself during this experience that allowed me to grow as a person. I found out that I am happiest when I am relaxed and more laid back, and that it is important not to stress out or worry about small things because I found out, those things I thought were important are actually not important at all. Another thing I learned about myself after doing this course is that I want to be a travel nurse or I want to do my practice in another country for a few years. I loved the people I was working with and I loved learning about the different culture and people I worked with. I also learned that I want to become a certified scuba diver, something I thought I would never do. There are so many more things I have learned and I loved every opportunity and experience I had, that I could go on about each one in detail but instead

I’d like to wrap up by saying, this was by far the best month of my life and I would like to thank everyone who made this experience possible. Now onto my next adventure, nursing school!

Closing Words: Veronica

I have always dreamed about studying abroad, wasn’t sure where but I knew it had to be somewhere warm! When I heard about the Island Health care in the Bahamas: type 2 diabetes, I knew it was the one. First, because I have a great passion for diabetes prevention and two because it was in the Bahamas a new place and new culture experience. Throughout the entire trip I  learned many things about myself on both personal and academic level. I was able to broaden my horizon with the multiple activities and experiences I was exposed to. I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone, academically, culturally, and personally. Learning about another culture is always very interesting but living the culture is even more, you get the real picture and the real deal. It was always nice being able to compare the Bahamian culture with the American and Mexican culture. I have grown a little more as a well rounded person. My favorite part of this journey was teaching and spending time with the kids at the schools as well as learning of the health care system in the Bahamas which will come in handy as I pursue my education in global health. I recommend this course to anyone who is willing to step out of their comfort zone and wanting to broaden their healthcare knowledge in chronic disease prevention.

Closing Words: Sarah

Overall, the course was the opportunity of a lifetime. I was able help spread awareness about Type II Diabetes while living in the most amazingly beautiful place. Being on Eleuthera and working with the people on the family island was awesome. They were so receptive and attentive to us and appreciative that we had taken the time out of our lives to travel to Eleuthera and help them. There was never a dull moment working with the kids. I loved running around and playing with the kids outside. They couldn’t keep their hands off of us! Through the course of the month we were responsible for so much- wellness fairs, presentations, service projects, etc. and yet we still found time to experience the beauty of the Bahamas. Days were long and busy traveling from school to school, but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. To future students, I would encourage them to expect nothing and not be afraid to throw yourself out there and get the most out of your experience. I learned how important taking care of yourself is and how important it is to take care of those around you that you care about. I am far from perfect and want to change my lifestyle for the better.

Closing Words: Katie

It’s hard to believe our time in the Bahamas has come to an end already.  I can honestly say the last four weeks were the best of my life, what an experience!  Over the course of this January term I feel I have learned so much.  Not only could I give a full presentation on type II diabetes now, but I also learned about the culture, how to host a successful wellness fair, the marine life in the Bahamas, sustainability, and island life in general.  I gained so much life experience over the course of the last month, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Some of my favorite times from the trip include the home stays, the kayak trip, our night at Tippy’s Restaurant and the Beach House, and our afternoon spent at Lighthouse beach.  While on our home stay, Miranda and I were able to fully experience the culture.  Our family was very accommodating and more than willing to answer any questions we had.  We had a chance to explore Tarpum Bay, visit the local park and watch a dog show, hang out at the house and play Xbox, and attend church.  The kayak trip was another highlight for me.  We had the perfect weather, with warm sunshine and water so smooth it looked like glass.  During our trip we were able to visit a blue hole and witnessed 5 large eagle rays swimming across the hole.  It was one of the most majestic things I have ever seen.  The kayak trip overall was a great time to reflect and spend some time in quiet out on the water.  Our night at the Beach House and Tippy’s Restaurant were such a great time as a group to bond and enjoy some local music.  Lighthouse beach was absolutely breathtaking.  By far the most beautiful beach I have ever seen.  We all enjoyed the day in the sun, the crystal clear water for snorkeling, and the super soft beaches.

If I were to give any recommendations to future students, I would just say to keep an open mind, try every new thing you have the chance to (within reason of course), and to savor every moment.  Over the course of the last month I learned a lot about myself.  I learned I am able to adapt to new situations and maintain a positive attitude.  Even in instances I would have thought I couldn’t handle, for instance the bugs and cockroaches, I was able to deal with just fine.  I am stronger than I realized I was, and I was able to overcome some fears I had prior to this trip.  I also learned how much I truly enjoy being able to help others and specifically working with underprivileged children.  This course was such an amazing journey in so many ways, and I will always cherish the wonderful memories that were made and the new friendships that were formed.

Closing Words: Amelia

Spending a month in the Bahamas was phenomenal.  Honestly, there really isn’t a way to describe it in words; it’s something you have to just experience for yourself. Learning about diabetes in the Bahamas instead of in a stereotypical classroom setting forced me to really learn and understand the material so I could teach it in many different ways, whether it be different age groups or different learning styles.  By fully immersing myself in the experience, I was able to also get a feel for how culture really played a role in the rate of diabetes in the Bahamas because I was seeing it first hand (I mean who wouldn’t want to eat and entire plate of peas and rice!).  I was also inspired along the way by the various people we worked with and met.  It was fascinating to watch and talk with the nurses in Nassau to see what their daily struggles were with their patients and how their jobs differed from those of nurses in the states as well as their similarities.  It was also interesting talking with the patients in the assisted living places we visited and to experience the differences between the nursing homes I have worked in, in the states.

For all those future Bahamacats, my advice for you is to take every opportunity given to you even if it makes you nervous.  Learn to trust in your classmates, seeing as those are the only people you will really be with for an entire month.  Having said that, give everyone the benefit of the doubt and be aware of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses that you know of.

Overall, I believe I learned more during this one-month course than I have in any single semester at Linfield thus far.  I learned not only about diabetes, working within another culture, working in another healthcare system, marine biology, and working with a small group of people for a long period of time, but also about myself, what really makes me happy, how I learn best, what makes me nervous or uncomfortable, what my strengths are, and where I want to start thinking about taking my future nursing career.  Before this trip, I was considering taking a break from school to think a bit more about whether nursing was really something that I was interested in pursuing.  I had completed the first semester of nursing school and had not found it interesting or fulfilling.  After my first couple interactions with the nursing home residents and school kids in the Bahamas, I realized that maybe traditional nursing in a hospital or clinical setting was not for me, but that I really enjoyed the education part and the outreach that we were doing.  If anything, I have walked away from this course with a new interest in nursing, but also in the future possibilities that are out there for me in the medical field that will challenge me to think of alternative ways of thinking about health and patient care.

Now that this trip is over and I have had a couple days to readjust and digest some of what I have experienced, (I will probably still be learning more about myself through this experience over the next couple months as I break down my memories further), all I can think about is going on another adventure! I can’t wait to explore more areas of healthcare in general, but also throughout the rest of the world.  I must say, it was quite the culture shock to come back from the Bahamas, specifically Eleuthera with only a couple thousand people, to the Seahawks having won the super bowl and going to the parade that had 700,000 people in attendance.  During the parade, I couldn’t help but think about the last month I had spent and how different the life I live here in the states is in comparison and if I am to be 100% honest, I could have spent a whole heck of a lot more time on Eleuthera! I’m still not ready to be back and face the next semester ahead of me, but it will be a lot easier knowing I have more adventures, like the one we just had, in my near future.