Students set for Ecuador

Published 9:53 am Thursday, April 30, 2009

Riverland Community College nursing students will soon be getting an education few will ever get the chance to when they visit Ecuador in two weeks.

Five students — Marie Thompson, Chelsea Rubin, Andrea Weidman, Gaelle Wilson and Nancy Hanlon, along with instructor Stacey Rosenberg will leave for Ecuador on May 14 and spend two weeks experiencing everything from care centers and hospitals to traditional medicines and the health care of rural people living in the rain forests.

The trip is part of the International Transcultural Nursing class, an elective in Riverland nursing program.

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The class is in only its third year at Riverland and is relatively young nationwide, having been around for only nine years.

Over the course of their time in Ecuador, the experience will open up an entirely new world to the students.

Thompson, a first-year nursing student from Albert Lea is one of those going on the trip. A person who admits to always having an interest in medicine, Thompson is especially looking forward to experience.

“I like getting out of the country, seeing their culture,” Thompson said, from the school’s Sim Lab Wednesday. “I like the hands on stuff, so I get to learn there rather than in a classroom.”

Rosenberg will be taking the trip for the third time and admits to how rare an opportunity it is for students at school the size of Riverland.

“Only five percent of community college students participate in this across the country,” she said.

But the rewards are worth it.

“We presented about this in February, and we interviewed students,” she said. “It affects their careers and affects them personally. It affects how they treat patients as well.”

For the first week, the students will tour hospitals and care centers as well as nursing schools. It will be a prime opportunity to see how another country differs from their own.

They will also get a chance for hands-on care, including a particular care-center for people left by their families.

“It’s a long term care center, and we’ll be there half a day, helping with care for people who have been abandoned,” Rosenberg said.

The second week will take them into the rainforest regions, in particular a piece of land owned by a professor from Arizona State University who is trying to preserve the plants and animals of the region.

The students will experience traditional medicines, see the work of a village shaman and educate them on healthier living.

“I’m really looking forward to the rainforest,” Thompson said. “There’s so much of their traditional medicines, and we have absolutely nothing of that here.”

The students going on the trip are also gathering donated items like toothbrushes, first aid supplies, toys, anything that can be of use.

“We’re trying to internationalize our curriculum,” Rosenberg said. “And it looks good on a resume.”