‘Imagine This:’ Experiential Learning in Nepal

By Nadiya Yerich, junior EC Scholar

Yerich in NepalImagine this: you’re in the ER of one of the best hospitals in Nepal, watching physicians attempt to care for a woman who was just attacked by a rhinoceros. She has a gaping hole in her chest and lacerations all over her body, particularly her arms and legs. The saline they hooked up to her flows out of every laceration on her body since they only stapled her wounds together. She does not have anesthesia, because she does not have family nearby to buy it for her. Medical and nursing students, and even random bystanders, are taking pictures of her. Within hours, she passes away due to lack of proper medical care. She was never sent to the OR, and she never received a blood transfusion. Sadly, this is not a unique case in Nepal. Throughout my month-long medical internship in Nepal through Projects Abroad, I got to see the effects of living in a third world country manifest in hundreds of different cases at the Chitwan Medical College.

13220880_1316804414999856_382906284005743192_nI had the opportunity to shadow physicians and nurses in the emergency department, operating theatre, orthopedic trauma ward, ICU, surgical ward, the ear nose throat (ENT) ward, tropical medicine ward, and even dentistry! The most interesting cases I saw included the rhino attack, a live birth, multiple cholecystectomies, an enormous bronchogenic carcinoma, and a woman who had burned a majority of her body with a kerosene lamp.

Human Services Shelter However, observing surgeries and medical procedures was not the only thing I did in Nepal. I also had the chance to go to the Human Services Center, which is practically a homeless shelter for the “untouchables” of the society. We got to play with the residents and do arts and crafts with them. On the weekends, I traveled to Chitwan National Park and the city of Pokhara with other Projects Abroad volunteers. The highlights were going on a 4-hour safari trek, riding an elephant through the jungle while watching for wildlife, sitting on an elephant while it bathed itself in a river, watching lakeside sunsets, going paragliding, and sipping on the biggest and most incredible oreo milkshakes this earth has to offer!
What I really loved about this trip is that it allowed me to  what I am studying at ECU – public health and religion. I was able to organize and lead a public health session on the importance of hand hygiene, and coughing/sneezing into your elbow to fourth graders at a local school. I also got to see temples like the Monkey Temple in person, which I had just seen in my Buddhism textbook in the spring!

This trip would not have been able to happen without the help of Dr. Todd Fraley and Ms. Whitney Morris at the International House who worked with me for almost half a year to figure out the logistics! I am also incredibly grateful for the study abroad scholarship I received from the foundation I owe my college education to: The Harold H. Bate Foundation.

I am very open to talking with anyone who would like to do something similar to this medical internship, or travel in general! Namaste.

men reading in NepalelephantsYerich on elephant

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.

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.

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.

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.

Cheers!

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