Will see you again Eleuthera.
This course has been an adventure to say the least. It all began over a year ago when I decided last minute to apply for a study abroad opportunity as it would be my last chance to do so in college. I was ecstatic when I heard I had an interview for the course on diabetes in the Bahamas, and even more thrilled when I was accepted! With a great deal of research, preparation, practice and team building exercises we were all ready to make a difference in both Nassau and Eleuthera.
We spent a great deal of time doing academic work to some degree. We all did multiple presentations to schools throughout Eleuthera (primary to high school), the Rotary Club, the Rotaract Club, and the Island School to name a few. We put on two wellness fairs; a small one at the Island School and our large final project in Rock Sound for the people of Eleuthera. All of our hard work preparing for this class and during our stay truly paid off. You could see the growth in all of us students in a variety of ways. The work load was difficult at times, as it normally is with any 4-credit class. Although we went to the Bahamas for our class and it was beautiful, we still completed a great deal of work—despite what many at home thought would happen! It was very rewarding especially going into the school systems and seeing the students grasp the concept of diabetes or when one student would say they would try to make a change or would tell their parents about what they learned! I was very surprised by our turnout at the wellness fair as we had been hearing of various other events that day people would be attending. We had individuals with a family history or diabetes or hypertension come and get tested for the first time in their adult life. The relief on their face was unmistakable as they were told their numbers were within normal limits. We had a few numbers that exceeded the limit in terms of these tests, especially weight and body fat—so it was very helpful to have nurse Edwards present to talk to these individuals. We were able to work with children at the fair and do all of their assessments, which everyone enjoyed. Overall, in terms of education we gained a great deal from this class. We were able to discuss our cause for being there with so many individuals, both in formal and informal situations. I learned a lot about their culture and reasons for struggling with such common health issues. I’m very pleased to say that accomplished many things during this trip—what we set out to accomplish, and a lot more.
Pleased to say it wasn’t all work and no fun! The Bahamas is of course beautiful—bright blue and clear water, gorgeous beaches, palm trees galore, and amazing sea life. We had many opportunities, especially at the island school to explore the island and what it had to offer. During free time we often went to the nearby marina for ice cream or to lie out on the beaches and read books or play in the water. We exercised every morning come sunrise, which wasn’t difficult considering the warm temperature and beautiful setting to exercise in. The 3-day kayaking trip was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I have been on. It was great spending quality time with everyone else in the group finally relaxing and trying something new.
I really enjoyed the people of Eleuthera and their way of living—low key. Their kindness and love for family was refreshing and made me miss my own. I loved how well our group of students got along, many new friendships were made during this trip with memories we will never forget. There were many opportunities given to us during our stay that made lasting impressions on me; such as, our tour of Princess Margret and how different hospital and clinics are in Nassau and the family islands compared to what I’m used to. Our home stays were incredible, and taught me the importance of family, selflessness and good food! There wasn’t really anything I didn’t enjoy during this trip—except maybe the part where we came home. Eleuthera taught me a few things about myself and my outlook on life. When times get tough and you want to quit, just count of friends to give you that last push you need. It is easier to go with the flow than plan and be frustrated. There is always a positive outcome from a negative experience. Always swim in the ocean when given a chance. Work outs are easier with partners! And finally, the Bahamas is the place to be.
If this class was to be completed again in the future, below are my tips for those lucky enough to take part in such an adventure.
– Bring LOTS of bug spray and anti-itching lotion—don’t be afraid to use it daily.
– SPF 15 works great for a tan
– Skip the rain coat and jeans, nothing but sunny weather here.
– Practice taking quick showers and letting it mellow—you will be better prepared
– Practice being flexible, it is a necessity here.
– Bring two cameras—the odds one will get broken is fairly high.
– Bring plenty of books to read
– Bring two towels; one for the ocean, one of showers—they get really crusty after a few uses
– Be prepared to do anything—and remember, try everything at least one (especially the food!)
– Finally, be prepared to have the time of your life.
–I’m sure I will see you all there! I can’t wait to go back 🙂
*Thank you Janet and Jay for giving us all this unique opportunity. I have taken away so much from this trip and would have never been able to accomplish what we did without the two of you. Thanks for sharing this beautiful island with us all—we are forever grateful for you and all of those we met on the way. Special thanks to Island School as well—you all are amazing.