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.

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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: 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.

Craft Fair and Softball Tournament Wellness Fairs and Pascal’s: Sarah Mason (2-1)

Wow. It’s February already? Where in the world has the time gone?!? This morning we went to the Tarpum Bay’s Craft Fair/Farmer’s Market and set up a wellness fair to check glucose levels and blood pressure for the people attending the market. For someone who had zero experience prior to this trip with this kind of stuff, it was pretty cool to see how comfortable everyone is with testing and eager everyone is to help out. Miss Paulette had a booth set up at the craft fair and was selling straw purses, placemats and comforters that she had sewn herself. It was fun to see all of her art on display and the hard work that she puts into selling it. She gave some of us girls a sewing lesson and sent us home with patterns to share with our friends and family. I loved seeing how proud she is of her work!

Then we headed over to the softball field in Rock Sound to set up another wellness fair at the softball tournament. We all sat in the bleachers for a bit and ate lunch before diving into work. It looked like it wasn’t going to be very successful and then all the sudden people started rushing over to our table to get their numbers checked. Our goal was to beat the last group’s number of people tested, and after the softball wellness fair, we made it! In total, we tested 40 people on Saturday and were all pretty pleased with our performance. After the wellness fair, the gang headed down to the dock on the water and relaxed for about an hour before heading to dinner. It was a beautiful spot! We all sat with our legs hanging off the dock at the breathtaking view. There were a number of sailboats anchored close to shore, so the sun beginning to set over the water was a pretty spectacular view.

Sunset from Pascals VHa

Sunset at Pascal’s. Photo by Veronica.

Next, we were picked up and shuttled over to Pascal’s where we ate a delicious family-style meal. Patti and Jai even showed up a little late to join us for dinner. Janet and Jay did a fun little white elephant gift exchange for us too (even though the presents were actually really cool souvenirs!). Janet and Jay are so thoughtful!! The restaurant was beautiful and the perfect spot to watch the sunset. It was a great last meal together and a time well spent with good company. I am going to miss this beautiful place and these wonderful people!

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Island School presentations, Lighthouse Beach and bonfire on the beach! Katie Hurliman (1-31)

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Final Presentation at the Island School

It’s hard to believe our trip is coming to a close already. Today we gave our final presentations at the Island School. Everybody did a great job and it was really cool to see how much we all learned collectively throughout this journey about diabetes.

After our presentations we went to the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have ever seen, Lighthouse Beach. I honestly have never seen anything like that magical place.

The pink sand is so soft…I felt like I was walking on flour and the water is so turquoise I could have sworn it was right out of a postcard. We had lunch on the beach, napped a little and then played a little 500 in the water- so much fun! Then came snorkeling, which was absolutely amazing in the clear water. The rainbow parrotfish we saw were by far my favorite, so colorful and vibrant. After snorkeling for a while, it was time to explore the beach a little. We walked up to the lighthouse, checked out the little caves and of course took tons of pictures.  We were all sad to see the afternoon come to an end, but so grateful to have spent an afternoon just relaxing and enjoying the gorgeous beach.

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Where the Atlantic meets the Exuma Sound. Lighthouse beach.

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To end the day, we had a bonfire on the beach and spent some time bonding as a group. I am truly thankful to have spent the last three and a half weeks with such wonderful people and could not have asked for better company. This trip has been by far the most incredible experience of my life and I will forever cherish the memories made here.

katie

Central Eleuthera High School, Emma Cooper Primary School, Tippy’s and Beach House: Kendra Howard (1-30)

Leaving at 8:30 this morning, we all knew we had a busy day ahead of us because we weren’t going to be back to the Island School until around midnight. But it was definitely a day well worth it. We had our last day of teaching today, it was very bittersweet. I have loved teaching the students about diabetes and I felt like everyone had finally become comfortable interacting with all the different age groups and had the knowledge and information needed to be taught down to a tee.

Teaching with Ms. Pauls

Teaching at Central Eleuthera High School with Ms. Pauls

First we went to Central Eleuthera High School where we had two twelfth grade classes and an eleventh grade class to teach, so we split into three groups to teach. I started in the classroom, as was Pendrey before the two of us were pulled aside to take some of the faculty members’ blood glucose levels and blood pressure. It was super fun! I had not yet had the opportunity to test people at the schools we have visited and it turned out to be really great! We definitely had some laughs while testing the faculty and the people we were testing made a little competition out of it, which was great to see. After we tested everyone that wanted it done, Pendrey and I went back to our separate classrooms for the end of the teaching session. This high school group was hard to interact with and keeping their attention was nearly impossible, which made it difficult to teach. It was still a great experience working with the older students because my class was full of 25 twelfth graders, so they were already pretty educated about Type II Diabetes.

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Learning how to crack a coconut.

After we finished, we all headed to lunch with one of Janet and Jay’s good friend, who they call their “Bahama Mama,” Mrs. Paulette. She was a hoot! I loved talking with her! The first thing she did when I met her was give me a huge a hug, and it was so sweet. We ate our packed lunch on a dock at the beach in Palm Meadow Point, which was beautiful. At one point during our lunch break Dave and Casey found a coconut and decided to break it open. It was the highlight of our lunch because we all were able to try fresh coconut water and the meat of the coconut.  It was seriously the best coconut I have ever had.

Teaching at Emma Cooper

Emma Cooper Primary School

Then we went to the last school we would teach at for the trip Emma Cooper Primary School. It was the perfect place to end because we all were able to teach the class together. It was a huge class  of third through sixth graders. It was so hot in the classroom! Everyone was sweaty, so we taught for about 30-45 minutes about diabetes, which was fun because the kids were so polite and participated every chance they had. After we taught, we decided to go play outside for about another hour. We played basketball, soccer, duck-duck-goose and danced around their play area. I had a blast! It could not have been a better place to end our teaching experience in the Bahamas.

After we finished teaching we had a really fun evening planned. We went to a beach on the Atlantic side, which was probably the most beautiful and amazing beach I had swam in and been on all trip. The water was so clear and warm and it looked and felt like I was swimming in a saltwater pool or something. And then of course the sand was pink and the softest and finest sand I have felt yet. It was a great place to relax with everyone. We all swam for about an hour and then layed out until we headed over for what would be a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Tippy’s. The food was absolutely amazing and it was just an all around fun dinner to say the least.

dinner at Tippies

Dinner at Tippys

Once everyone was in a food coma, Janet and Jay decided to take us to this place called the Beach House. It was a poppin’ place. There was live music, dessert and drinks, so we all hung out there for the rest of the night and danced to some real authentic Bahamian music. It was a blast and I didn’t want to leave! Today was an incredible day and I am definitely going to miss teaching the students during the last couple days that we have left here in the Bahamas, but I would not have wanted today to end any other way.

Kendra Howard