NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Nine of us junior and senior nursing students from Bethel College and our professor traveled to Haiti before Christmas for a cross-cultural exchange.
The nursing department at Bethel College is not only a rigorous and challenging program but also a place where students can learn about themselves and their faith. With this knowledge, a group of students and an admirable professor set forth on an academic and cultural experience to Haiti.
While in Haiti, we traveled to a small city called Hinche, where we were blessed to stay with Bethel alumnus Wildy Mulatre. Wildy and his family might have been some of the most generous and caring people I have ever met. I am proud that we got to see how the Bethel College experience can shape a person and their community.
We spent much of our time in Hinche at the local hospital. We got to change wound dressings, start IVs, administer medications, assist in procedures including live births and practice our bedside manners with people of a different language and culture.
It was saddening to see people suffering, with very little resources. Haiti happens to be the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere – meaning most people do not have enough of anything, even something as basic as food and water. I believe that was the most challenging part of the trip.
The health-care delivery system was radically different than what we experience in the U.S. It was shocking to most of us that there was limited fresh water, no hygienic care for patients and no disposal system.
The overall nurse-patient relationship was different as well. It seemed much more distant and less holistic than what we are taught. That being said, the Haitians in general were some of the most caring, generous and happy people I’ve ever met.
After our time in Hinche, we made the mountainous, two-hour journey back to Port-au-Prince.
In the capital, we got to visit a beach that was very rocky, but also very beautiful. This was the perfect way to wrap up our emotionally strenuous trip.
I thought I was prepared for this journey, but by the end, I came home with more questions, and also more passion for others. A cross-cultural experience is absolutely necessary to help avoid stagnation and to grow as a person and in your faith. Bethel College provided me this opportunity and I am eternally grateful.