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!

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Snorkeling, Kayak Education and Deep Creek Middle School: Casey

Okay, this trip is going by wayyyy too fast. When we woke up this morning we had a little bit of an idea about what was in store for us, and we were all pretty excited. After breakfast, we headed to one of the classrooms below our dorm for a presentation to help us better identify the various species of fish found swimming in the coral reefs in Eleuthera. It was actually pretty cool since none of us have a background in marine biology. We are all brand new to the process of identifying the thousands of species of fish that inhabit the crystal clear waters of the Bahamas. After the presentation, we all headed to a location near us nicknamed “Fourth Hole.” The snorkeling spot got its name because it was near where the fourth hole on a golf course would have been had funding not run out on the project and fell through. Right off the beach at this spot, there was a beautiful coral reef, and we all know what that means…SNORKELING! The fish that inhabited the reef were so vibrantly colored. It’s kind of cool to see some of the same fish seen on the Discovery Channel; however, when you see the same fish in person, they are twice as beautiful.
After snorkeling we came back and grabbed some lunch before meeting up for our kayak lesson! Since we have a kayaking/camping trip coming up in about a week and many of us are beginners in the world of kayaking, one of the instructors at the Island School helped us become more acquainted with the kayaks. We learned the different parts of the kayak and the equipment that will be needed during our trip. We also got to paddle around for a little bit and actually got to practice a “wet exit” in case the kayak is to flip over while we are out on the water. A little scary, but really fun at the same time!

Our day concluded with us traveling back to Deep Creek Middle School, which we are all becoming pretty familiar with by now. Some of us helped the kids work on research projects while some of us read with the students. The kids are always so excited to see us, and seeing them smile is some of the greatest things we get to see on this trip. Looking forward to doing a little more teaching tomorrow! Until next time!

casey thein

Visiting Clinics & A Little Free Time: Casey Thein

What a first day!! We finally have arrived in the Bahamas and man, we sure did hit the ground running. We woke up in our hotel (beautiful, absolutely love, amazing) this morning and all had some breakfast before heading out for the day. On the morning agenda was visiting three separate public health clinics, also called polyclinics.
First up, the Fleming Street Clinic

First up, the Fleming Street Clinic

This new word, polyclinics, really did fit. It was soooo different from what I was used to seeing back in the U.S. They handled everything here!! Each clinic was not very large, but treated people with just about every ailment imaginable. Quite honestly, you could be sitting in one room getting your teeth cleaned by the occasional dentist, having an ultrasound done on your belly in the room next door, and getting blood-work done through the door across the hall. That was amazing to me. The local nurses and assistants were all so nice and kind, I was really impressed considering that we probably just looked like a group of American tourists. Such an eye opening experience, it would be a great to have more help down here though. Lots of patients to be seen with few physicians to see them!

After our morning clinic visits, we grabbed some lunch at a local market. We then got the opportunity to meet two very special people in the diabetes community. From 1pm-3pm we got the chance to meet with the president of the Bahamas Diabetes Association and Dr. Jones, a local physician. In these meeting we learned quite a deal about the local population and their connection to Type 2 Diabetes. We learned what each of these two people did, what kind of patients then generally speak with, and what types of treatment plans they usually suggest for people who are currently living with diabetes. We also got to learn a lot more just about diabetes in general and why it is such a huge problem here in the Bahamas.
It was a very open meeting and we got to ask questions and comment on the discussion that these two professionals were having, which was really cool! We then concluded our day with a little beach time (yes the water is as amazing as you are imagining it to be right now) and then dinner at a local restaurant where the food was AMAZING. I am having the time of my life and it is only day 1. I can’t believe I am here right now! I think it is finally starting to sink in. The class is great, we are all fitting in so well together even though many of us have never known each other before this trip. Can’t wait to see what the rest of this trip has to offer! Until next time!
casey thein