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.

Green Castle Primary School and Island School Wellness Fair! Pendrey (1-23)

Today was just another wonderful day in paradise! We started our day off presenting diabetes education to third through sixth grades at Green Castle Primary School. The kids were so polite and well behaved, and we all had so much fun teaching them. I got the opportunity to chat with one of the teachers there and she explained to me how several of her family members have Type II Diabetes. Many of her family members have developed severe complications from their diabetes. As I was talking with her, she told me that children here are not being educated about the true severity of the disease and the preventative measures that can be taken to help prevent the development of Type II Diabetes.

This conversation in particular reminded me of the true reason that we are all down here. Sure, gorgeous beaches, picturesque sunsets and sunrises and new adventures may surround us everyday, but we also have the opportunity to change people’s lives here. Every person that we can educate about prevention is one more person that can potentially avoid developing Type II Diabetes. I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to help the Bahamian people because I think that our group is truly making a difference. Nothing makes me happier here than when I see that the kids truly understand what we are teaching!

Another great event today was our first wellness fair that we held at Island School. We were able to screen about 45 people. It was an awesome first experience for all of us, and I would have to say that it was very successful! The Deep Creek Middle School after school program came to visit the fair, and several of us got to see our reading buddies from the previous times that we had been there. It was great to see all of the kids getting their blood pressures measured and testing their grip strength. Having our first fair at the Island School was a great preparation for our next one in a few days. Everyone was able to get a little more comfortable with all of the tests, and we got to meet some awesome people as they came through the fair. As could be expected, the grip strength test was the liveliest! I could hear everyone cheering each other on as they tested, and I’m sure that all the people involved got a few laughs from it too!

We ended the day by attending a presentation on sharks in a few reefs in Australia. It was very interesting to listen to, and I love that we get the chance to learn about a different subject area while we are here. Since we’re the only group of our kind on campus, I feel like I’m getting the chance to learn something new every day! All in all, it was a wonderful and productive day. We even got a chance to do some laundry and catch the sunset. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds in store for all of us! Yay Bahamacats!!!

pendrey