By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer
Baylor has shown through its many study abroad and mission trip opportunities how much it values students traveling and serving those around them. The Louise Herrington School of Nursing is no exception. Nursing students at Baylor have an opportunity to experience and serve their global community through mission trips.
Baylor’s medical mission trips originate back to 1976, a year before Dr. Lyn Prater, a clinical professor and level four coordinator for the nursing school, arrived. According to Prater, the trips that occurred early on were at the Mexican border in El Paso. Students worked with a local church group and medical professionals on both the American and Mexican sides of the border to help patients in the community.
“We did that for 21 years until the violence on the Mexican American border there at Juárez became so great that risk management at Baylor said it was too dangerous for us to take students,” Prater said. “So we refocused our mission work to Africa and to India.”
Hyderabad, India, Bengaluru, India and Zambia, Africa are all locations for international nursing trips for students, according to nursing’s website. All of the international trips take place annually, and Prater believes these trips are crucial for students wanting to get new experiences under their belt. She says it gives them a completely different perspective on life.
“Students certainly have a chance to see things on social media, see things on TV and read about things,” Prater said. “But it’s not until they’re actually there with the people at the institutions where we partner that they really get that experience of working cross-culturally and understanding the needs of the people at the places we go.”
Dallas senior Alexis Hart visited Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore) and traveled to rural villages to do things like make house calls, among other things, to interact with the public.
“We were also able to go to a school in another village and teach 14 and 15-year-old’s about communicable diseases and ways to promote healthy living,” Hart said. “We used crafts and stories to teach. It was a blast.”
For nursing students on the fence about participating in the mission trips, Hart said they should keep an open mind on the matter.
“Having eye opening experiences make you a smarter person,” Hart said. “Seeing how people achieve the same goals in different ways with different points of view can be humbling, yet exciting. You are faced with truths you never had to think about. The whole trip is laced with joy and growth.”