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.
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.
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!
Although it was a little rough, we all rolled out of in time for our 6:45 a.m. bike ride tour around the island. Most of us didn’t sleep very well last night, due to the warm temperature, bugs and the uneasiness of being in a new place for the first night. The sleeping arrangements here are a big adjustment for us because we are sharing our living space with other students from around the world. Also, the Island School has a few rules that will take some adjusting too, such as the “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” rule and the sailor showers, which both seek to reduce wasted water.
As the sun was rising, we grabbed our neon helmets and saddled up on our beach cruisers. The Island School has a ton of bikes for students to ride whenever they want! All 12 of us rode to the marina where Janet and Jay pointed out a café, a small store that has washers and dryers, Sunset and Sunrise Beaches and a few other spots where we can spend our free time. When we got back to the Island School, Karen was waiting for us to show us the premises. She took us all over the Island School campus and showed us the school’s sustainable efforts. The Island School is very progressive in their thinking and strives to reduce their carbon footprints as much as possible. They grow a lot of their own food on the property, the buildings are powered by solar panels, a few of the buildings have foundations made of old tires and limestone and the Island School recently implemented their own biodiesel station for the vehicles on campus. It was super cool to have a behind the scene look at how the school operates, I was very impressed by how sustainable the school chooses to be. Also on the tour, we were able to see the research centers on the campus where researchers and PhD students from all over the world come to perform research. I think our group may be the only non-biology/ecology group on campus right now, so it was neat to see what everyone else has been up to!
After the tour, we headed to breakfast. We had French toast, bacon and the most delicious papaya! After breakfast we had some time to change into our swimsuits and take a short nap before our swim test. We met Liz, a lifeguard for the Island School, at the boat dock to begin our swim test. After we all passed the test we checked out snorkel gear and Liz led us on a short snorkel around the boathouse. We were able to see some fish, conchs and even a stingray! Then we ate lunch as a group on the roof of the dining hall, it was so beautiful and hot up there. I can’t get over how breathtaking the water is here. The turquoise water extends for as far as I can see in almost every direction. After lunch we had a few hours of free time, so we decided as a group that it was time to do some laundry. It’s crazy that we have already been here for a week!!! We all headed over to the marina to wash our clothes and prepare for our first presentation, which is tomorrow (yikes!).
While we were at the marina, we got alive by bug L Last night during dish crew, one of the first things we noticed was how many bug bites everyone had ALL OVER THEIR LEGS. Although mosquitoes have done some major damage, the “no-see-ems” are doing the real damage. They are just what they sound like, bugs that you can’t see. After sitting in the shade for a couple hours, we had all gained more than a few new bug bites. With our clean laundry sitting in our beach cruiser baskets the gang headed back to the Island School to meet Janet and Jay to learn how to take blood pressure on people. We will be performing blood pressure examinations on people during wellness fairs later in the trip. For me, this was a super cool experience because I am the only non-health related major so I had no idea what I was doing. Janet, Jay and the nursing students in the group have been so helpful in making everyone feel comfortable performing the various examinations. We need some more practice so we might ask a few of the other students on campus if we can practice taking their blood pressure!
Before dinner, Janet and Jay encouraged the group to split up at dinner and mingle with the other people dining from the Island School. Katie and I sat next to a group from Portland, Maine, which was kind of funny because we always hear about the other Portland on the other side of the country and it was cool to actually meet people from there! We also met one of the boat drivers for the school that is helping with research on grouper fish who said he has diabetes. We asked him if we could eventually take his blood sugar levels while we are here to make sure he is healthy, so that will be pretty cool!
We practiced our presentations for the first time this evening and it went surprisingly well! I think we are all ready to get our first presentation over with tomorrow morning. For the rest of the night we are planning on taking showers and getting to bed early. I think we are all pretty wiped out and ready for a solid night of sleep. Wish us luck on our first presentation tomorrow!