This post is a bit “off target” — it has nothing to do with weaving and dyeing. It has everything to do with culture, health care, the delivery of health services, and inter-cultural exchange. As the lead development officer in a major U.S. school of nursing, I get a chance to see the impact that international education has on students and the development of skills and knowledge necessary to provide culturally competent, quality care to diverse populations in North Carolina.
I got an email a couple of weeks ago from one of our public health nursing faculty in the School of Nursing at UNC Chapel Hill who leads many of our international learning experiences. She asked if there was an opportunity for one of our students, Leilani, who is a rising senior, to volunteer in a public health clinic in the Oaxaca Valley, preferably in Teotitlan. Leilani’s plans to spend the summer volunteering in the Philippines had fallen through. Could I talk to the Chavez family, the faculty member asked, to see if this was possible and to see if the student could live with them for a month? Were there arrangements I could help make with a clinic to see if they would accept a Spanish-speaking volunteer from the U.S. to work side-by-side local doctors serving the health care needs of the local population? UNC Chapel Hill has a commitment to offering their students international learning experiences and Leilani will get academic credit for the month that she spends in the village doing community health service. Because the local health officials have never done this before, we are paving the way. Eric did the leg work, went to the local clinic to talk with the doctors, they liked the idea, asked the village and regional officials how to proceed, and this is what will happen next. Leilani will arrive, go to the district health office in Tlacolula, have an interview, and get official approval and documentation to give to the local clinic doctors in order to be accepted as a volunteer. I’ve asked Eric to help facilitate this contact for Leilani, so he will go with her. She is arriving on May 20 and leaving on June 19, and I am excited to hear all the details of her adventure and the impact that the experience will have on her future nursing career goals. Leilani had studied pre-med and is thinking about a career in nursing/medical anthropology. Stay tuned!