Study Abroad in Cambodia
by Sarah Hintz, Nursing Student
Today (Tue 5/19) was our second and last day at Sonja Kill Hospital. Many of us woke up to the sun’s rays peering through the “mountains of Kampot”; however, less than 12 hours before the break of dawn, we stood under the covering of the star-filled sky. Certainly, the most star-lit sky I have seen in my entire 21 years of existences. During our time here we have experienced, that from the moment when we wake up to the moment when we fall asleep, we are surrounded by Beauty. It is a beauty that goes beyond the word itself because it carries much more meaning than that. It carries comfort, peace, and humility. Surrounded by such beauty we are humbled to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Just by simply being on the hospital grounds we are in awe of the Creator of the Universe and feel a part of His continued work with humanity. We have the opportunity to partner with God’s heart, what He is doing, and what He has planned for Hope International (the organization that supports Sonja Kill Hospital).
One thing I found most difficult is that being surrounded by such granular Beauty, it can often cause me to lose susceptibility to search for the Beauty in the simple things. However, our group as a whole did not. In simple conversation, I have seen our group grow in unity through encouragement and positivity. I am so encouraged and honored to be a part of a group that reminds me to see the Beauty of the simple things; through each individual noticing something I may have not noticed or experienced. As we begin our morning walking from our town homes to the “library” or classroom, the gentle breeze reminds us of Beauty grace. That Grace is found in the comfort of a small breeze, in the midst of the heat of the day. One of the members of our team helped me see that through a simple praise “Doesn’t that breeze feel wonderful!”
Once we arrived at the classroom, many of us began to teaching other nursing students there at the hospital. Another group walked around the hospital to have the opportunity to see or be a part of the Healthcare team at the hospital. They allowed us to be in the Emergency room, Maternity unit, Pediatric ward, and witness surgical procedures; this in itself could make traveling 27 hours worth it. I was beginning to see the Beauty of acceptance. We were strangers and they welcomed us in. However, being here not only allowed me to see the beauty of being accepted, but to also be able to see the beauty in receiving others, right where they were at. While walking through the pathways, several Cambodians were sitting on benches waiting for their names to be called to begin their care; their eyes would follow our group because we were like a line of little ducklings following mommy duck, Dr. Taplin. I smiled to them as we walked by. As I was coming closer to an older man, who showed the many years of stress and labor, I again smiled, but this time attempted my Khmer and said, “Hello” in his language. His face lit up with surprise and he responded with a Hello in Khmer in return. His response sounded like a burst of joy had been forgotten about and in his response he was reminded again. I saw the simple beauty of being accepted and accepting.
I and other students returned to the teaching classroom where Tiffany asked me to assist her with her teaching topic of Head-to-toe assessment. Again, all I can conclude is that I am a part of an amazing team. I taught alongside of Tiffany and she showed me the Beauty of inspiring the Love of Learning. With a continuous smile and constant encouragement to the nursing students in Kampot, she inspired everyone in the room to grab hold of knowledge and not let go. I watched the nursing students take what they learned from her and apply it. They felt comfortable with asking her questions and walking through critical thinking application. Even though there was a slight language and cultural barrier it did not hinder the simple Beauty of Learning. Two other members of my team taught SBAR, a nursing tool for communication, and I saw the Beauty of Growth. I had courses with both of these young ladies, Erin and Cassie, and I saw the simply Beauty of Growth in both of them. They both stepped into leadership roles that led the nursing students into more confidence of their own abilities. Sarah, our only social work student, showed me the simple Beauty of Listening. She had the opportunity to interview a family to learn more about their situation.
With much unrecognized patience, she captured parts of the vision behind the hospital and was able to utilize it for a resource for the hospital. She showed that with the Beauty of Listening, you can hear the heart behind the person. Aly showed me the simple Beauty of Stillness. She throughout the day took pictures and documented the events of the day.
The pictures here are some of the ones she took:
They say that one picture speaks a thousand words. But, during our bus ride back home, I looked over at one of the pictures she took and it had to speak more than just a thousand words. Because, it spoke of concepts of life, the beauty of stillness, and taking a moment to just remember. The picture I stared at happened to be a picture from the family that Sarah interviewed.
Throughout the day, I was reminded of the simple Beauty of Community. In less than two days we were a part of a community that impacted us and we impacted. Community is not built by time, but by the Beauty of Love. For we have fallen in Love with the People of Cambodia and feel Loved by them. We said our goodbyes around 2pm and climbed on our bus with a comfort knowing that this was not that end of relationships built here, but the beginning. On our bus ride home we just enjoyed each other laughing, singing, and most of us drinking our iced coffee. While on our bus ride, Dr. Taplin reminded us to look outside our window. I saw the simple Beauty of the Land. We arrived back to our main base, Golden Gate Hotel, and had dinner at the wonderful restaurant across the street. We again were in our group and able to share with each other our experiences of the last couple days.
Even though we left the beautiful Kampot, we will not stop encountering beauty, because God is doing a work in us each day, changing us, and transforming us. So our lives reflect the simple Beauty of Christ in us. He just so happens to use the people around us to do so.