Learning is a always a personal journey.
Both myself and my colleague, Anita Muchalla, are excited to have the pleasure of facilitating an incredible learning journey for an impressive group of future nurses.
The consensus among the group of second year nursing students, heading to Bangalore, India was nicely articulated with the group's underlying sense of humour by one of the students, Anna Thalmann; "An adventure? Alpaca my bags!"
The adventure has begun for twelve nursing students from Prince George and Quesnel, who are enrolled in their second year of the Northern Collaborative Baccalaureate Nursing Program (NCBNP) at the College of New Caledonia (CNC).
The students are in their final clinical class prior to entering the third year of their nursing program at UNBC.
This clinical is a consolidated hands-on experience with the purpose of supporting the application of both theoretical knowledge and learned skills obtained in the first two years at CNC, while preparing them for continuing on with their nursing education for the following and final two years of obtaining their degree in nursing.
Additionally, students will be immersed within a culture very different from their own, supporting a cultural experience. The students will be volunteering with both Dream India Foster Care and spending time at the House of Hope, which is an orphanage for children impacted by HIV.
The group of students participating in the Nursing Field School in India are all academically strong, are inherently outgoing, enthusiastic, and embrace learning opportunities as a means of both personal and professional growth.
The students have done an incredible amount of work in preparation for this clinical experience, all over and above the challenging and demanding requirements of being nursing students (assignments, papers and exams).
Additionally many of them volunteer outside of both school and work.
They began to fundraise for the trip months ago, prior to even knowing if they themselves would be one of the students participating.
Writing letters to support their cause, collecting donations from many people in their communities (some such as Kamloops, Quesnel and Prince George), including both monetary donations, toys, clothing, educational items and presenting a "flip flop challenge," collecting approximately 100 pairs of shoes/sandles for the children of India.
Once the final group was determined, the preparation continued, with bake sales, pub nights and bottle collections; those students who were not going continued to provide their support. It has been an incredible opportunity to watch these nurses in training bond and display attributes that are generally not associated with their generation and are characteristics significant to nurses.
Fundraising alone has already presented many of their strengths: leadership, the ability to work together as a collaborative group, embracing a concept of "we" versus "me," making decisions, strategizing, displaying creativity and effectively communicating.
They have also displayed their technological abilities.
One of the students Steven Ferguson created a Facebook page to assist in keeping all members of the group organized and in touch throughout the fundraising.
Additionally, many of the students (Alana Legeard, Shawn Berteig and Vanessa White) have been creating videos of their experiences in the nursing program and are continuing to do so while in India, and creating areas where they can share their pictures and videos among the group.
Overall both Anita and I feel privileged to be a part of their leaning experience and look forward to the learning that is yet to come.
Students will express their experiences through the reflective practice of journalling (part of their clinical requirement), and I know we are very excited to visualize their experiences through each individual lens.
I can share our experiences, starting with the beginning of our travels, how we had come to arrive in Bangalore India.
One really short flight and two very long flights (approximately 20 hours in the air), and a 45 minute bus ride in 30 degree weather with twelve students, two instructors and at least 30 suitcases/hockey bags at 2:30 a.m. in India traffic and no air conditioning. Of course as nurses, we improvised as we are good at working with what we have on hand.
We opened the little yellow curtains and slider windows so we wouldn't stick too much to the plastic covered seats (there might have been a few beads of sweat rolling) and don't worry moms and dads no one stuck their heads or arms out the window to determine if the vehicles were actually six or eight inches away from each other.
Everyone arrived fully intact, but that's a whole other story - we have landed in Bangalore, India.
Crystal Lawrence is a nursing instructor at the College of New Caledonia. She will be filing reports from the CNC Nursing Field School in India.