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2019 Belize Blog: First Impressions

On Friday March 15, 2019, 13 College of Nursing undergraduate students along with Dr. Karen Lasater, Dr. Carrie Baily and Dean Vickie Niederhauser arrived in Belize for an eight day service learning opportunity. Our program, located 2 hours west of Belize City, includes community outreach and providing health care and education to several communities in the San Ignacio surrounding area. We will conduct community assessments and run remote clinics over the next week. The group has been busy the first 24 hours with settling into our home for the next 7 nights, participating in the medical team briefing and learning about the country of – and the people who reside in – Belize.

Students were asked, “What are your First Impressions?”

  • I was surprised by the blend of people and cultures here, from the Mennonites to the native Belizean’s to people from multiple ethnic and racial groups, it is a very diverse place.
  • I did not expect the beauty, with palm trees, cool breezes, and green mountains.
  • I was happy to see that most people here (in San Ignacio) speak English.
  • We did not expect to hear country music [including Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood] over the loudspeaker at the restaurant that we ate our lunch in route to San Ignacio.
  • One student said, “Things move slowly here, no one is in a rush.”

When asked, “What are your learning goals?” many students replied they want to expand and improve their health assessment skills, some are interested in getting better at interviewing families in community settings, some are excited to practice speaking Spanish (in the rural clinics there is a large Spanish speaking populations), some want to hone their critical thinking skills to connect symptoms-diseases-pathophysiology, and others want to work on translating medical information into words that are understandable to patients and families. We are excited to begin our community visits tomorrow! Stay tuned for more updates!

In closing, our International Service Learning partners on this journey reminded us today, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act” [Proverb 3:27]. Tennessee Nursing stands ready to go!