Healthy partnership: NC dental and nursing students unite to help communities in Honduras

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Students gather before leaving for Honduras (from left): Brooke Hepburn (practical nursing), Cynthia Harb (practical nursing graduate), Angie Nahli (dental hygiene), Vibhuti Jethva (dental hygiene), Aliya Bukhari (dental hygiene).

A group of 17 students from NC’s Practical Nursing, Dental Hygiene and Dental Assistant programs are joining forces for an International Field Study that will see these programs collaborate for the first time.

The students departed for Honduras on October 22, to work alongside the Hope Centre, a refuge for underprivileged and abandoned children in Honduras’ capital city of Tegucigalpa. While there, the students will have an opportunity of a lifetime to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it in developing communities.

Highlighting the success of another Field Study in Honduras last year, professor Mark Grabner from the School of Nursing and Personal Support Worker noted that this year’s group is much larger than those who participated last year.

“We are excited that more students are getting involved and participating this year,” he said. “In addition to helping communities, our goal is to help NC students expand their horizons and give them a chance to see a little bit of the world while learning about how medical care is delivered in other countries. It will be a great learning experience for the students and communities alike.”

Professor Ruth McMullan from the School of Allied Health has joined Grabner and the students in Honduras.

“We will be doing a lot of outreach activities to give students a chance to fully immerse themselves in the community,” she said. “One of the things they are looking forward to the most is becoming part of a new community and experiencing a new culture.”

During the trip, the students will visit four local communities where they will conduct home visits and teach basic health care practices including first aid, food handling, healthy eating and oral hygiene to children and families. The majority of the families cannot afford visits to a doctor or dentist and for many this may be the closest thing to a checkup they have had in years.

“Everyone comes from a different background and you really have no idea what someone’s reality is like until you have lived it yourself,” noted Dental Hygiene student Angie Nahli.

“I think going on this trip will open our eyes to the world and to the job opportunities that new graduates sometimes overlook,” added Dental Hygiene student Aliya Bukhari. “This will be a good way for us to explore the dental and nursing jobs available outside of the typical clinical settings and in areas such as rural communities.”

The Field Study in Honduras is only one of several International Field Studies scheduled for this year’s fall Reading Week. Groups of NC students are also bound for the Dominican Republic, Philadelphia and Florida as part of the College’s signature Be World Ready program.

The students will return from Honduras on October 30.

Be World Ready offers students and staff at Niagara College the opportunity to experience a culturally diverse learning environment and understand international perspectives through education and exchange. Since its inception in 2010, the program has engaged over 300 staff, 2500 students in the classroom and on campus in intercultural learning experiences and over 1000 students in international learning activities abroad.
Students that participate in International Field Study, Study Abroad, or Work Abroad experiences through NC’s Be World Ready program are eligible to apply for a $500 travel grant.

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