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.

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Junior Junkanoo and Wellness Fair! David Lee (1-25)

During the morning hours of this beautiful day we all went to sunset beach and snorkeled while Kendra and Katie got an introduction to scuba diving. The snorkel spot we went to was amazing. There was a huge 60-foot crater that we could swim around and free dive into. Not much sea life there but the terrain was what made the spot for me.

Shortly after lunch we boarded the van and headed up to Governor’s Harbor to get ready for Junior Junkanoo. We got there a couple hours early and set up a wellness fair among the delicious smelling food vendors. The wellness fair wasn’t as popular as we were hoping, but we were able test blood pressure and blood glucose for 25 Bahamians.

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The festivities of Junior Junkanoo started a couple hours later. Six primary schools, one middle school and two high schools danced and paraded down Queens Highway from 5 p.m. until well after we left at 11 p.m. I think the entire population of Eluethera was in attendance. My favorite school was Deep Creek Middle School, mainly because we all spent countless hours preparing their elaborate costumes.

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This festival tops the list of our most enjoyable experiences on the trip. Some were very upset to be pried away from this good time prematurely. I’m sure the streets of Governor’s Harbor were rocking until the sun came up the next day.

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Home stay: Tarpum Bay David Lee

Our home stay was spent in Tarpum Bay with Gwen, Christian, Charleston, Sherry, and a few other Bahamians who welcomed Casey and I into their home with open arms. Gwen was the homeowner and mother of Christian. Gwen’s husband works in Nassau and was unable to commute home during the weekend that we were visiting. Sherry, Gwen’s sister, lived at the home, but had been working the night shift so out interactions with her were limited. Charleston, Christian’s best friend, was also a guest at the house this weekend. This added an interesting dynamic to the group. Now that the characters of the story have been described let’s get into the events and happenings of this weekend.
IMG_0312We were instantly thrown into a war zone upon walking in the front door. Christian and Charleston were so enthralled with killing zombies in their Call of Duty video game. They were so into their game that they didn’t even take their eyes off of the screen when we introduced ourselves. Or maybe they couldn’t hear us over the machine guns blasting on volume 100. I must admit I was taken back by the advanced technology in this Bahamian household. I wasn’t expecting all the iPads, iPods and smart phones that were all in use during the weekend. I wasn’t complaining though. I quickly connected myself to the internet and plopped down on the couch for the rest of the night watching more basketball than I’ve seen in weeks. Shortly after we arrived, Gwen brought us each a plate of tacos and a beverage. She didn’t let us help her with anything despite our numerous offers. We weren’t even allowed to get up to drop our empty plates in the sink. After I reached my quota for basketball and Cheetos, I retired to my bed room for the best 9.5 hours of sleep I will receive on this trip.

Saturday morning got off to a great start when Barbara, Gwen’s personal cook, came in to cook us a hearty breakfast, which consisted of French toast, eggs and bacon. Sadly, our plans of fishing with Christian were washed away due to the weather. A dog show at the park would have to suffice for our entertainment for the day. At the park we met up with a dozen of Christian’s friends and played basketball for hours while waiting for the show to start. The dog show was a great community event for us to attend. We were able to interact with community members of all ages and we got to eat some great Bahamian foods like conch fritters and macaroni and cheese. After the dog show was finished and we couldn’t handle any more games of knockout, we called Gwen for a ride back to the house. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating, playing more video games and watching more television. In the early evening Gwen decided that we needed to see a little more of the island so she took us up to Governor’s Harbor and acted as our personal tour guide by giving us a little history on every settlement we passed through along the way. One fun fact we learned along the way was that Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon own a house in Windermere Estates. Sherry works security there and I wouldn’t mess with her, so paparazzi stay out! We reached Governor’s Harbor just in time for the sunset, it was almost as if Gwen had planned it perfectly. As the sun was setting Gwen took us on a tour of the Atlantic side of the settlement. We stopped at Tipys, a restaurant/bar, located on the most beautiful beach I’ve seen since we arrived in the Bahamas. Casey and I couldn’t get over how soft and fine the sand was. And it had a majestic pink tint to it too. Christian and Charleston were appalled that something so simple could bring such joy to two grown men.

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When we got back to the residence, Gwen whipped us up some conch salad  and conch fritters, to show us that hers was better than the food we ate at the dog show. She was right. At that point I slipped into a food coma and spent the rest of the night with the boys playing video games and watching sports.

I woke up early Sunday morning and started preparing my Sunday best. I even shaved my face. It was important to me that I show Gwen and the others how seriously I take their Sunday traditions. Charleston and I chatted and a played video games until the others started waking up. Barbara showed up at some point in the morning, and her and Gwen started preparing the feast that we would later devour after church. We showed up to church 30 minutes late, but were one of the first groups to arrive. The church was very upbeat and inspirational. It’s a wonder that the pastor was able to keep his voice going for the whole hour that he was screaming his sermon from the top of his lungs. Casey and I were able to meet each and everyone of the 12-15 attendees and had good conversations with all of them.
Barbara was waiting for us back at the house with three of her grandchildren. Back to the video games and sports until Gwen brought out a plate of food that could have weighed about five pounds. Fried chicken, fried fish and ribs were our protein. Potato salad, peas and rice and macaroni were our starches and two pieces of broccoli rounded out the meal as our vegetable. I honestly didn’t think I could fit anything else in my stomach but Gwen insisted we needed some brownies and ice cream. Before we knew it, we were being picked up by Janet and Jay and saying our goodbyes to the family.

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I have never dreamed of doing a home stay before this trip and I had no idea what to expect. I did not expect the Bahamians to be so technologically advanced. The guys each owned more handheld devices and game consoles than I have to my own name. I had heard that Bahamian women treat the men like kings, but I figured that was a generational thing that may have fizzled out by now. There were a couple times where I had to sneak behind Gwen’s back in order to put my own dishes in the sink.

I really enjoyed the family atmosphere of my Bahamian host family. It was refreshing to see such selfless actions by each of the family members. The most impressive thing to me was when Christian, a thirteen year old boy, took over as the man of the household while his father was away working in Nassau. He took out the trash and fed the animals without any prompts from his mother.

I couldn’t come up with any negative aspects of the home stay. Gwen and the rest of the family took us in with open arms. I was surprised at how un-awkward this weekend was from the very beginning. It takes certain types of people to let two strangers live in their home for a weekend and practice the “what’s mine is yours and whats yours is mine” principle. This experience is something that I will take with me for the rest of my life and will forever be an experience that I am very fond of.

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