CUAA nursing in Guatemala (2019)

Concordia University Ann Arbor school of nursing’s summer clinical offerings aren’t your typical learning experience—they’re immersive, life-changing, and global.


In summer 2019, CUAA nursing launched three global clinical sites for students to complete their community health and pediatric nursing clinical hours.

Forty-one nursing students spent time in Belize, Romania, and Kenya volunteering their time and talents in both rural and urban communities providing care and sharing God’s love through their compassionate caretaking.

“Caring for people from various cultures from around the globe provides our students with a unique opportunity to learn and serve, both of which align with Concordia’s mission,” said Campus Dean and Associate Professor Cindy Fenske. “The students were able to use their skills to provide care, hope, healing, and knowledge to the people they served.”

The summer trips are a part of dozens of distinct global learning opportunities offered by Concordia University in more than 30 different countries. Global education courses are faculty-led study abroad opportunities that can be completed for course credit and typically last one to three weeks.

2019 is the second consecutive summer that CUAA’s school of nursing has offered trips of this kind for nursing students, with no plans of stopping in future summers. In 2018, nursing hosted trips to Guatemala, Uganda, and Kenya. 

“We are thankful that the Lord has opened up so many opportunities for partnering with mission-based organizations so that we can give this opportunity to all of our nursing students,” said Fenske. “Our hope is to send students to these sites summer after summer, allowing us to make a considerable impact in the lives of those we are serving.”

Upon their return, nursing students have been eager to share how they are forever-changed because of their global summer experiences.

ROMANIA: July 12-July 26, 2019

Timisoara, Romania
Megan Hardecki (’19) smiles with her new friend at the Varias foster home in Timisoara, Romania.

Concordia school of nursing partnered with community organizations and local hospitals for a trip to Timisoara, Romania. Led by Professor Dr. Mihaela Zegrean, a group of thirteen students spent their time learning to assess children and the extensive impact of socioeconomic factors on physical health.

While in Romania, the group worked with partner organizations including Missio Link International, Hope and Light Christian Association, Victor Babes Hospital for Infectious Disease, Louis Tucanu Pediatric Hospital, Timis Emergency Hospital Pius Brinzeu, Social Services, and Buzias Re-Education Center for Minors.

Participants on this trip (and all the global summer trips) completed two clinical courses: community nursing and pediatric nursing. Even though learning was constantly taking place, Zegrean shares that some of the most impactful moments on the trip occurred when the students were joyfully living life alongside the people they were surrounded by.

“One of the most memorable moments for me was playing with children at Hope and Light foster Home. The smiles on the children’s face and on the students’ faces were priceless,” said Zegrean.

CUAA nursing students enjoying exploring in Romania (2019)

Kenya: July 20-August 4, 2019

Nairobi, Kenya and Voi, Kenya
Photo provided by Deane Grimm (’19)

Two clinical instructors and seventeen CUAA nursing students traveled to Kenya, partnering with Hope Without Borders and spending time in both rural and urban areas.

No matter where the group was that day, they always began the day with devotions. Professor Peggy McLaughlin, an instructor on the trip, said that through the trip, Philippians 4:4 repeatedly came to mind:

“Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, rejoice!”

The team’s days in Kenya were spent working alongside local health-care providers and exchanging cross-cultural health information. Students delivered hygiene packs to help keep boys and girls in school and taught them about handwashing and learning and implemented other sustainable interventions to aid with various health issues and tuberculosis.

Many students also focused their observations on HIV transmission, specifically the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission also known as PMTCT.

Photo provided by Deane Grimm (’19)

Senior Deane (Shapley) Grimm (’19) shares that her experience in Kenya will prepare her for her future as a nurse because of her gain knowledge, skills, and cultural insights.

“The whole experience was eye-opening. I appreciate my life and everything that I have so much more,” said Grimm. “This trip also encouraged me to put all my faith in God. The people there trusted God with everything they had, and they know He will take care of them.”

Grimm says that one moment that really stuck out to her was visiting a children’s orphanage. At the end of their visit, the kids sang “This Little Light of Mine,” a reminder to Grimm to always shine His light no matter the circumstances.

BELIZE: July 20-August 4, 2019

St. Ignacio, Belize and surrounding villages

Eleven CUAA nursing students traveled to Belize in partnership with MOST ministries. This trip was led by school of nursing advisor Angie Raasch and simulation instructor Betsy Cambridge.

The purpose of the trip to Belize was to serve the people and expose students to medicine and nursing care in another culture while completing their pediatric and community health clinical hours.

“The biggest learning moment was the realization of how little medical care that many of the people we came into contact with had access to, including medicine and access to health providers,” said Cambridge.

The group spent their days providing eye-glasses and medical clinics to under-served areas of Belize and observed in local hospitals and clinics. The students had many eye-opening experiences while observing, including the witnessing of births and many medical procedures.

Cambridge shared that one of her most memorable experiences was helping with the eye-glass clinics. “I was amazed to see people lined up out the door willing to wait hours to have their eyes examined and be able to obtain glasses to help them see better. They were so incredibly grateful to us for this simple, life-changing thing.”

Tammy Delane (’20) shared a particular instance where she was able to do homecare on a young man that had been in a motorcycle accident. His family lived on the side of a mountain, so he was not able to walk down the mountain to come to clinic. His family came down and asked if the Concordia team could come and help him.

CUAA nursing in Guatemala (2019)

“He had recently been discharged from the hospital, but still had many open wounds and was having an allergic reaction to his antibiotics,” said Delane.

She joined a group who hiked up the mountain, dressed the young man’s wounds, and provided him with pain medication. They were also able to educate the young man and his family on the antibiotic reaction he was having.

“The family was so grateful and appreciative, and it was such an amazing blessing and experience that we were able to help him,” said Delane. “I learned that ways I serve my patients might feel insignificant to me, but to my patients it could mean the world. Small gestures like a listening ear and kind words can be as healing as the medical care I am providing.

Hannah Rayburn (’19) said she was touched by the civilians of Belize working together to help each other, interacting with kind hearts, and have open arms for one another when in need.

During their time serving the people of Belize, the group had to be ready to act in all situations, responding with flexibility and adaptability to all of the different scenarios they encountered. Rayburn said she is eager to incorporate a well-rounded nursing perspective to her vocation as a nurse.

Rayburn also said she will never forget how excited the Belizean children where when they received a pair of glasses or sunglasses at one of their eye glass clinics.

“They wore their new glasses so proudly. One pair of sunglasses put such a happy smile on their faces,” said Rayburn. “This truly made me realize how much I have and how fortunate I am.”

THIS COULD BE YOU!

In semesters to come, the school of nursing is eager to increase global education opportunities for Concordia nursing students. Learn more about CUAA’s school of nursing at www.cuaa.edu/nursing.

— Rachel (Ferry) Thoms is manager of campus communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor. She may be reached at rachel.thoms@cuaa.edu or 734-995-7403.

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