When Jill Sand came back from
a Global Studies trip to Guatemala last June with students and staff, she knew
there would be a special bond with her fellow travelers.
“You look around and you’re
like, ‘this is pretty amazing’ and you know you can never duplicate this in the
United States,” Sand said. “They learn things that will last them a lifetime.”
Sand, chair of the
Respiratory Care program at Southeast Community College, along with three
fellow instructors and 21 students spent eight days in the Central American
country. The students represented a variety of SCC programs, including Surgical
Technology, Respiratory Care, nursing (Associate Degree Nursing and Practical
Nursing), Radiologic Technology, Dental Assisting, Medical Assisting, and
Physical Therapist Assistant.
Students were able to treat
local residents who don’t easily have access to health care and other modern
resources. At times, people stood in line for hours, but rarely complained. Sand
says this is great experience for health science students. Not only are they
gaining important skills, but also fulfilling a need in the community.
“They treated all ages, did
basic health assessments and rotated positions,” Sand said. “They were never
stuck doing the same thing every day.”
Every spring and summer,
SCC’s Global Education program takes various international trips. They provide
opportunities for students to experience traveling abroad, while at the same
time earning college credits and developing awareness of other cultures.
Students, faculty and staff
are eligible for the trips, as long as they take the global education
curriculum aimed at studying the particular country in which they will travel.
Dawn Starkey is an adult
learner studying in the Associate Degree Nursing program. She had never been
out of the country before and wanted to see another part of the world. When she
heard about the Global Studies program at SCC, she knew it was something she
had to do.
“It felt really good,”
Starkey said about the trip and helping others. “The people were so incredibly
grateful and thankful. I felt a little upset that I couldn’t do more.”
Starkey said every student
and instructor rotated into groups where they would perform various
assessments, including checking vital signs, blood sugars, blood pressure, and providing
general health care education.
“It was neat to see a nursing
student teach a radiology student how to do a blood sugar test,” said Sharon
Rehn, chair of SCC’s Surgical Technology program.
“They were smiling and happy
and appreciated all the information we gave them,” Starkey said.
The students and faculty
spent time in Guatemala City, San Jose Pinula, the Monte Redondo Community, and
Antigua. They would typically see around 250-300 patients a day with long
lines, but people were happy to get the medical care and assistance they
Sand said many of these
people don’t get any health care services at all, and simple education was the
most valuable thing they could teach them.
“People were so gracious and
so hungry to hear about how they could help themselves,” Sand said. “The most
valuable thing we can teach them is education.”
In addition to providing
much-needed health care services, the group also donated more than 1,000 pounds
of supplies from SCC employees and students before the trip. Items included
shampoo, soap, deodorant, and educational materials.
While people waited in line
for their turns, students kept the children occupied by playing kickball,
blowing bubbles, showing them sidewalk chalk, and painting their faces.
“We got a lot of hugs, kisses
and thank-yous,” Starkey said. “Even with the language barrier, we were able to
communicate with them. Love is universal; it was precious.”
“I was getting so much from
this trip,” Rehn said. “Toward the end is when you realize you have a strong
relationship with all these people. It’s just enough time to fall in love with
everyone on the trip.”
This was the second Global
Studies trip for Sand, but she has been on numerous other mission trips. She says
every trip is unique and has a special meaning. She loves when students see
“There’s a moment during
every trip where I think things are working well, things are special,” Sand
“I’ve already decided I would
like to do it again,” Starkey said. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”
In 2017, there are trips
scheduled to Brazil, Italy, Cuba, Haiti, and Guatemala. The deadline to sign up
for the trip to Italy is October 1. For more information, click on the Global
Education Opportunities link. https://www.southeast.edu/globaleducationopportunities/