A group of 14 Selkirk College nursing students will be travelling to Guatemala in May for a practice experience. The students will be looking at furthering their understanding of how community development and health are positively linked.
“Every year, except for last year because they cancelled it, Selkirk College has a panel of judges that we have to apply to,” said student Kelly Simpson. “They pick the group of students that get to go. In April, as part of our clinical practice experience we get to go to Guatemala and fulfill our practice hours nursing, doing health promotion and working with our practice partners to enhance our knowledge.”
The third year nursing students will be the sixth group to head down to Guatemala and work with partner groups AMES Association of Women in Solildarity, Mayan People’s clinic of La Esmeralda, the Cooperative of Nuevo Horizonte, and the Community of Sipikapa.
The nurses will be led by Selkirk College instructor Mary-Anne Morris and two other supervisors.
“Mary-Anne is our Global Health instructor,” said student Carly Paolone. “She’s been going on international nursing trips for years. She’s awesome. “
“We’re doing some teaching plans in our Global Health class that we might actually be able to teach when when we’re down there,” said Simpson. “So there’s a real crossover of theory and then we’ll get to practice it. It’s great.”
The students will be in Guatemala from April 25 to May 18.
“Our itinerary is pretty full,” said Paolone. “We’ve got something planned for pretty much every day.”
The students will spend the first few days in Guatemala City in a hotel but after that will be mostly camping in smaller towns in backyards.
“We will be working closely with our practice partners who have worked before with Mary-Anne and other previous Selkirk groups,” said Paolone. “We will do a number of things such as hand hygiene, dental hygiene, and women’s health including sexual health, we talk about condom use and STD’s. We’re trying to learn from them how close community health is in relation to general health.”
The group will also learn about how to address social issues such as poverty, inequality, discrimination, and human rights violations.
“We’re going to communities that are poverty stricken and don’t have much for medical facilities,” said Paolone. “We’re going to see how working with the community and how the community working together is linked to health. We not only hope to teach them but also learn from them and take it back for when we become nurses.”
“We are also expecting to learn how to cope with limited resources,” said Simpson. “We can apply those principles in our own work. If we choose to work in the north we’re going to have limited resources.
The group is hoping to raise over $30,000 to cover the cost of the trip for the students. To help raise the money, the students are organizing several rice and beans fundraisers. The next one up is on Feb. 3 at Rossland Secondary School at 6 p.m. The cost is $10 per person with tickets available at the door.
“We do a traditional Guatemalan dinner with a beans, rice, corn bread, coleslaw, and desserts,” said student Heather Price. “We also do a silent auction with items that have been donated from the community plus a raffle.”
The event also features a slide show presentation from previous nursing students who have already made the trip to Guatemala.
“What we’ve heard from previous classes that have gone is that the experience is unlike anything you can get from simply travelling,” said Simpson. “This is just a different perspective. You’re invited into the communities. You go to a family’s house for meals. They want you to come back. It’s a really exciting partnership. We’re super-excited to go.”