The HOSA Experience

By: Thao Kim Pham, Honors College Sophomore

Kim HOSAWhat was once music has now become a cacophony as it mixes with the sounds of horns and traffic. The 10-hour drive proved to be more arduous than we bargained for. Upon arrival at our hotel we were fortunate to be able to enter the doors to our domain to rest our weary heads. We slept. And we continued to sleep. At this point food was a mere barbaric instinct stirring us to wake from our deep slumber. If there was anything that could salvage this trip it would be the HOSA experience. The HOSA International Leadership Conference was held in Nashville, Tennessee from June 21–26.

After immersing myself in HOSA – Future Health Professionals for five years, I knew that there would be more to our trip than the long drive. The days ahead would engrave the HOSA experience deep upon my brain. The experience can best be described as synonymous with a buffet. While each entity can be enjoyed separately, a buffet tastes best when joined with others. The HOSA experience enables this by drawing unique backgrounds into one meeting place allowing for the interchange of culture. This enriching setting was amplified more so during my competitive event.

MrsWest_Me_2ndplaceEveryone enjoys winning, and at nationals this goes double. Here the best are gathered to do combat until one stands out amongst the rest. During my competitive event, a conglomerate of emotions filled my body. At the center of my soul, was doubt. Despite countless hours of studying and encouragement, the doubt within me grew restless as does a bee hive when provoked. While it may seem trivial to merely indicate A or B, when thrown into this predicament it becomes A or B or Y. “Y” as in “Why did I put A instead of B”. This doubt stabbed at me incessantly tugging at the corner of my mind until I fatigued my body and soul. By the end of the test I left the room to see the sparkling smiles of my friends. So what if I lost? I can still enjoy Tennessee with my friends. Or so I thought. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would attain second place in my competitive event of Knowledge Test: Human Growth and Development. This is the HOSA experience where students crawl and battle their conscience for any place they can get.

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Bioethics and Comparative Healthcare in Japan

Leposa-JapanBy Taylor Leposa, junior EC Scholar

Studying bioethics and comparative healthcare in Japan was an incredible experience. The course focused on exploring the similarities and differences between the Japanese and American healthcare systems, as well as discussing the implications of various bioethical issues. The Japanese have one of the longest average life spans out of every country. Though America spends more money per person on healthcare, the populations expected life span is significantly shorter.

This course explored the advantages of having one single payer for services and a collectivist society when it comes to healthcare. Because of the collectivist nature of the country, many people views on ethical dilemmas that are very similar. The country as a whole is not as largely opposed to the option of abortion as some groups in America, people are hesitant to take part in organ transplantation or donation, and there is no apparent opposition to government funded research on adult stem cells.

When we dug deeper into these viewpoints, we largely found that we could not get a straight answer from the experts. It seems that most people could not explain their position on these dilemmas, and that societal norms were the main influencer.

We also discussed at length the impact that World War II had on the current society and Leposa-Japanhealthcare system. One factor that significantly impacted healthcare was Unit 731, a Japanese medical research unit in the military that performed extensive and inhuman experiments out of China on foreigners and prisoners of war. Research was done on the impact of frostbite, syphilis, and many other conditions. We discussed the implications of the American response to these scientists at the end of the war, which was to largely cover it up because the information was useful. We talked further about the atomic bombs, and the lasting effects from them being dropped. My visit to Hiroshima is pictured right. The Atomic Bomb Dome is one of the only buildings standing today to have survived the blast.

Leposa5As far as our cultural visit, we got to see many Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples. Many of the shrines are rather simple, and all are marked at the entrance by a Torii gate. The Shrine pictured above is in Kyoto and is known as the Thousand Gate Shrine. Businesses and families make monetary donations to have their name on a new gate, which is placed in along a trail up a mountain leading to a shrine worshipping their god of a good rice harvest. The temples had sometimes many rooms with tatami on the floor, and often had beautiful gardens. The bamboo forest pictured above is at one of the temples in Kyoto. The Zen Buddhism temples also have zen gardens, in which patterns are raked through rocks. The group also got to take part in a zen meditation session led by one of the monks.

Overall, the experience was wonderful and educational. It makes one realize how large the world is to experience another culture on a first-hand basis.

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In The Heart of Europe

By Will Zahran, junior EC Scholar

IMG_2766Reflecting on my study abroad has been bittersweet as I prepare to leave, and it is difficult to put into words how thankful I am to the EC Scholars Program for providing me with the incredible opportunity to study in Europe for six weeks. Hours of research on what, where, and when to study landed me in Prague, Czech Republic for summer session I at NC State’s Prague Institute. Now, I am going to attempt to describe my feelings after spending a summer semester in the most beautiful city in Europe (that’s a fact not an opinion).

I may be a little bias, but I can’t think of a better place to study abroad. After culture shock and jetlag hit me like a train followed by a brief adjustment period, I was able to see the beauty and liveliness of Prague. There is always a ton to do here as it’s the largest city in the country, so I was never bored between site seeing, festivals, and restaurant hunting. Enjoying dinner by the river with a view of the Prague Castle is an experience that can only be described with a picture. But when you are feeling a little suffocated by the city atmosphere, a short tram ride out of the city can take you to some awesome hiking locations or maybe the Prague Zoo. Prague is relatively inexpensive, which is great for college students, and its central location in Europe made traveling to other countries easy. While here, I have been able to travel to Vienna, Austria; Mikulov, Czech Republic; and Budapest, Hungary.

I have to thank my awesome professors at NCSU’s Prague Institute for enriching my experience with insightful lectures about Czech Republic and weekly field trips around the city. My two classes were Basic Czech Language and Culture and Central European Literature in the 20th Century, Zahranboth taught by Charles University professors. Our trips in the city included art galleries, museums, and even a recording studio, all of which I may have missed had I been traveling alone. Additionally, learning about the language, history, and culture provided a greater appreciation for my surroundings as I navigated the city.

During my six short weeks here, I have learned so much about Europe and, surprisingly, about the United States. It has been interesting to see how communism impacts the culture here even 27 years later, as well as how the people see Americans. Seeing America from a foreign point of view has put a few things in perspective. For example, I realized how much we take for granted and how much our culture and decisions influence the rest of the world.

I am grateful to the NC State Prague Institute for a study abroad program that far exceeded every one of my expectations and to the EC Scholars Program for the support to embark on this exciting adventure. The experiences and memories I am taking with me will last a lifetime, and I can’t begin to express the value of studying abroad no matter the location. After departing Prague, I will be doing some traveling in Germany before heading back to the U.S. to tackle my junior year.

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Weingartz: Not ‘playing it small’ in South Africa

ocean selfieBy Ashley Weingartz

“There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life less than the one you are capable of living.”   -Nelson Mandela

Prior to this trip, I had never left the United States and I decided that I wanted to go to the most unique country possible for my study abroad. I didn’t want to “play it small” and go to a country I knew a lot about and Mandela’s advice certainly prevailed in this case. I had the time of my life.

Less than 24 hours ago, I was in the middle of 36 hour travel and 22 hour flight time to make my way back to the States. This summer, I was able to travel to Cape Town, South Africa for a two-week History Study Abroad with Dr. Kenneth Wilburn. I can honestly say that this trip was one of the most inspiring and transformative educational experiences that I’ve ever encountered.

South Africa GroupFrom taking the somber tour of Robben Island, to hiking to the top of Table Mountain, South Africa is a place to challenge your mind, body, and spirit. I learned so much about South Africa’s history, the fight of Nelson Mandela and his comrades to form a democratic South Africa, the social issues that have been overcome, and the ones that still continue in this country. Their problems are not so different from ours, or the rest of the world’s, but are unique in that they are so fresh with Apartheid officially ending barely two decades ago.

I was quite fortunate to be on a trip that was so well organized and so small (only two students). This allowed us to have some incredible experiences without feeling like a group of tourists all day. Our travels took us to Robben Island; a preschool in the Langa Township; the top of Table Mountain; a cottage in the middle of a game reserve; a safari with lions, rhinos, and giraffes; a local pub during an intense South Africa versus Ireland rugby game; and a cage where we were nose-to-nose with great white sharks.

IMG_1519The highlight of my trip was our 15-mile hike up Table Mountain, though. The challenging, five-hour hike was well worth the view from the top. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all learned lessons in perseverance and the rewards that come with finishing the climb. I’d also like to mention just how beautiful the entire city of Cape Town is. We traveled to many different parts of the city and there was not a single place that was not breathtaking in its own way. Whether it was mountains, beaches, or wilTable Mtndlife, we were mesmerized the entire trip by the beauty of Cape Town.

As Dr. Wilburn says, I will always live in the shadow of Table Mountain. I hope to visit the Mother City again sometime soon but I am so grateful to EC Scholars and the Honors College for giving me the opportunity to “play it big” and visit this wonderful country for the first time.


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Heart, Mind, & Eyes Wide Open: India Study Abroad

By Kayla Daughtry, junior EC Scholar

Daughtry meditatingHello everyone! My name is Kayla Daughtry, and I am an EC Scholar who majors in neuroscience. Although my line of study focuses mainly on sciences and medicine, I am incredibly interested in world cultures and religions, but have felt that I don’t have the time to dedicate to such study. Luckily for me, the perfect opportunity arose, and I made the decision to travel to India for five weeks this summer with Dr. Derek Maher to do Religious Studies research about the Buddhist Holy Land.

Stepping out of the airport in New Delhi was the hugest culture (and heat) shock that I have ever experienced. Throughout my time in India, I was constantly in awe of the differences in infrastructure and quality of life in comparison to the United States. During the trip, we traveled to various sites that had importance in the Buddha’s life and teachings, including Sarnath, Kushinagar, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Shravasti, and Nalanda. My research was done in the Spring semester in an honors seminar, and I specialized in the place of the Buddha’s death, Kushinagar.

It was such an interesting experience to perform extensive research and create a plan for documentation for a location that is unfathomable from halfway across the world. Once in Kushinagar, as well as at all of the other holy sites, we photographed, documented, and made observations about the monuments that were placed to commemorate the importance of the life of the Buddha. Dr. Maher taught lessons and told stories at each site that provided us with more information about Buddhism and all that occurred in the locations during the time of the Buddha and what has occurred afterward. It was so neat to walk in places where such an influential religious figure spent time and taught the foundations of what we now know as Buddhism. We even got to spend time meditating beneath the tree where the Buddha was enlightened! Our trip was part of the first steps of the research project and the hopes for the future are to create a huge database for religious studies students to utilize for highly accurate information about Buddhism and the life of the Buddha.

One of Kushinagarmy favorite parts of the trip was meeting a female monk in Kushinagar (pictured left), who took me and two other students to the Buddhist temple for women that she is building all on her own. She expressed to us that her goal is to combat the oppression of women’s freedom in India, and has already accomplished a by being such a powerful presence and enforcing her own right to buy land, build, create, worship, and become ordained as a monk, which are all incredible feats, especially in such a patriarchal society. My eyes were truly opened on that day, to the extreme oppression that Indian women face in aspects of life that I take for granted.india elephant

In addition to Buddhist holy sites, our group visited New Delhi, Varanasi (the holy city on the Ganges River), Agra (where the Taj Mahal is located), and McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala which is positioned in the lesser Himalayas. In these places I learned of so many things, such as Hindu traditions and worship, ancient Mughal tradition, Tibetan medicine and arts, human rights activism for Tibetans and Tibetan refugees who have come to India, Tibetan occupation by China, and the crisis that the country faces in attempting to preserve its culture and humanity.

In just five short weeks, I have seen, learned, felt, and experienced a vastly different culture in all of its beauty and difficulty. These experiences have made me feel angry and sad at times, but also the most elated and joyful that I have even been in this lifetime. These emotions, paired with so much new knowledge, have widened my eyes and greatly impacted my view of the world, cleared my mind and allowed my heart to be entirely full of love, increased my sense of international activism, and given me an urge to go back to India as soon as I recover from the 24 hours that it took to travel back to the U.S.

I would like to sincerely thank the Honors College and EC Scholar program for providing me with this opportunity, the friends I made on the trip for keeping me sane, and Dr. Derek Maher for being such an amazing mentor and teaching me the most valuable lesson: everything is subject to change… the ability to adapt is what matters most.

India flowersdaughtry taj mahalIndia coast

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