Compare and Contrast…. Lions, tigers, elephants and bears… oh my!

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Another nursing adventure begins with a trip to Chile.

I am again supervising a group of undergraduate nursing students on a global heatlh experience. This year we have chosen Chile. I am traveling with 7 nursing students and one interpreter/liaison. We have a few students who have some Spanish proficiency so that is helpful. Learning to speak Spanish is on my bucket list so maybe I will get closer to that goal after this trip. I titled this entry compare and contrast because of some of the differences in this trip compared to previous trips.

On this excursion we will be working at a hospital in Talca on an inpatient psych unit. This will be an incredible experience for the students, but the community nurse in me wants them to also see the aspects of community health and public health so they will be doing additional assignments related to some of these areas. We are not bringing large boxes of supplies to deliver to clinics or orphanages and the experience of dealing with large boxes, transportation and airline travel has been avoided on this trip.

We had an uneventful flight. I was surprised that when I arrived at Logan that many of the students had already checked in and were patiently awaiting the arrival of the whole group. Only one parent came to Logan, which surprised me at first, but then I realized that I am traveling with a very travel savvy group. I remember the large group that has met in Logan in the past with some tears and hugs and nervous good byes. As we navigated the airport and subsequent transfer at Miami Iwas impressed with the maturity of this group.
We arrived at Santiago very early this morning and I was pleasantlysurprisedby the cleanliness and efficiency of the airport. We transferred to our hotel, which is a complex of three large towers comprised of small apartments in the Centro section of Santiago. We were unable to check in this early so after dropping off our bags we proceeded to explore the city a bit. Mostof us are functioning on few hours of sleep on the plane but we have no choice but to keep our feet moving.
My surprise this trip was that in my 3 trips to Africa I never saw an elephant, giraffe or tiger. Well today I saw that and much more. We spent a few hours at Parque Metropolitan de Santiago. A great day. We had some lunch at SchopDogs, which featured a mix of Chilean and slightly German fare. Lots of options for food and shopping, which is a contrast to the poverty stricken landscape of Ghana thatgreetedme every day on previous trips.
My goal is to work on helping the students to see the aspects of health even in a beautiful country like Chile. They have assignments to work on and I am pointing out areas of interest like air pollution, water and land pollution (in some areas), but also the cleanliness of other areas and the lack of obesity of very obvious chronic diseases.
We did recall the words of Dr. Deidra Murphy who reminded us to look at the physical barriers that exist for people with disabilities and we did see some of that today at the zoo and other areas. The traffic is busy, but not the chaos of Accra and cars and pedestrians seem to obey the signs and crosswalk signals.
This is just the first day of our journey but already I am a bit less worried about survival and concentrating more on providing a great experience for these students.

I hope the students will also be able to give you a glimpse of their view of this experience. Please check back and read more…

View a photo gallery from the trip.