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Friday, February 24, 2006

SU Nursing Students, Faculty Reach Out to African Villagers

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University nursing students and faculty recently used the skills taught at SU to teach residents of a small African village about AIDS and other diseases that plague that area.

SU volunteers traveled with Global Service Corps – Tanzania to teach awareness classes in villages around the city of Arusha for about two weeks, experiencing a vastly different culture.   

“It was a very humbling experience,” said student Christine Wagner of Joppa, MD. “Tanzania is one of the five poorest countries in the world.  Seeing how they live over there, I was struck by how little is really needed to live.  I felt selfish thinking about all I have back home.” 

 “It’s a lot worse than what you see on TV,” said student volunteer Megan Dukes of Secretary, MD. “I met a 28-year-old widow who was dying of AIDS while trying to raise two kids in a one-bedroom plywood shack she shares with her mother-in-law, her nieces and her nephews.”

In the midst of this poor, disease-ridden village, Dukes said the efforts of Americans to teach about AIDS were well appreciated.  “Everyone who attended our classes was a willing, eager participant.  There was definitely a lot of interest in what we were doing.”  Wagner added that the classes “will impact them for the rest of their lives.”

In addition to teaching AIDS awareness and prevention classes, the group also visited hospitals and clinics in Tanzania to get a first-hand look at the healthcare system in place there.  Dukes explained that in Tanzania most nurses have no more than a high school education, through which a basic nursing certificate can be earned.  Dr. Voncelia Brown of the SU Nursing Department said the United States “has a global responsibility to improve healthcare in the rest of the world, in addition to doing more with what we have here.”  While working with their counterpart nurses in Tanzania, the American group also gained an appreciation for what these individuals are able to accomplish with such limited resources.

“This experience really broadened my sensitivity to poverty and other cultures,” Dukes said. 

The trip also offered lessons in Tanzanian—and world—culture. Participants spent the first week in a hostel where they met travelers from around the globe. The second week each participant lived with a Tanzanian family and experienced their lifestyle. Each family was different.

While on safari, SU students and faculty learned about the natural wonders of Tanzania including the Ngorogoro Crater and Lake Manyara national parks. This trip also provided a window to the life of Maasai, a well-known tribe in East Africa.

While in Tanzania, students had to learn to negotiate local transportation systems, ride the local "dala dalas" (vans with three or four rows of seats that served as local buses and often held 18-25 people) and find telephones and Internet cafes that they needed to communicate home.  They learned to speak basic Swahili and, with the help of Tanzanian students, to navigate the large city of Arusha with a map but few street signs and no traffic lights or stop signs.

They felt what it was like to live in an environment of constant chaotic and dust and fume-generating traffic and to feel at home in a city where there were few other white people. They learned of the generosity of the Tanzanian people and their willingness to share what they had.

Other students involved in the experience included Christina Pizzillo of Eldersburg, MD; and JoVonne Chandler and Teresa Smith of Salisbury. Other faculty members included Dr. Karin Johnson, Dr. Dorothea McDowell and Betsy Drewer.

For more information call 410-543-6031 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu. "



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