Throwback Monday?? A month in Cambodia
As the weather starts to get warmer, the flowers bloom and the semester comes to a close, Belmont students are anxiously awaiting summer break! Summer in Nashville is made up of days at the park, internships, outdoor shows and much needed rest and relaxation. I am so excited for the festivities to begin, but I can’t help thinking of this time last year. A year ago I was prepping to embark on a trip that will forever top any summer plans I will ever have. Last summer I took a trip across the world for a medical mission that has forever changed my life.
Last May I studied abroad in Cambodia. This is a trip that takes place every year through the Belmont nursing department, but they occasionally allow a non-nursing major to tag along. I am biology major with the intention to go to medical school, I hoped to shadow doctors and gain more experience working in hospitals abroad. The wonderful nursing faculty helped me develop a unique program, while they would be training nurses in Cambodia, I could meet with doctors there. We prepared by learning about the Cambodian people and the history of their war stricken country. We learned about their cultural norms and religious beliefs. Yet, despite months of preparation and learning nothing compared to how much we would learn while we were there.
After traveling for 28 hours we finally arrived in Phnom Pehn, the capital of Cambodia. There we stayed in a hotel, but definitely nothing like what we are use to. The first thing I noticed was how thick, humid and hot the air was. It would range from 95-110 degrees during our time there. We settled in and the next day we were off to the hospital. The hospital was like nothing I could have imagined. They had no air conditioning. They waited to be seen by setting up camp outside of the hospital, many traveling miles and miles. Each floor had an open layout with very few old rickety beds. That week we learned how different medicine is in a 3rd world country.
The trip also had a mission component. The days we were not in the hospital we got to go out in the country and experience poverty like I had never seen on any mission trip. We saw the thick jungles and beautiful waterways that make up this special country. Our days were spent working on a new home for a family who desperately needed a home and bathroom for their large family. The parents were also victims of HIV aids and needed to be in a healthy environment. As a team we learned how to use very primitive construction techniques to build them a beautiful new home! We got to know the family despite our language barrier and quickly learned how warm and gentle Cambodians are. I will never forget the woman so desperate to find a way to thank us, collected fresh mango from the tops of trees so that we could eat with her family. It was the most delicious piece of fruit I have ever eaten.
The trip was filled with ups and downs as we experienced something so out of our norm and comfort zone. My heart was softened by this experience and since my trip I have decided to go into mission related work (hopefully in Cambodia) after becoming a physician. Studying abroad was one of the most incredible and rewarding things I have ever done. I wish I could go back every summer and experience the knowledge and wonder of a new world.