One aspect of the many new changes to Hastings College is the block system that gives students the chance to take trips during the two-week blocks. For the first block of the new semester, a group of HC students went on a nursing service trip to Panama.
This trip was unique in the aspect that it was student-run without an HC chaperone. Senior Mariah Seip, Junior Hannah Langer and Sophomore Sam Mulder partnered with an organization called Global Brigades to create a medical chapter of the Brigades on campus and organized the trip that occurred during block one.
Global Brigades is a student-run global health and sustainable development organization. The Hastings College students spent a week in Panama City, Panama, serving basic healthcare to the financially insecure in the city. The students spent each day learning a different side of the nursing field, such as dentistry, pharmacy, doctor consult and triage. The goal, though, wasn’t to provide part-time medical relief, but Global Brigades hopes to empower communities to eventually provide adequate healthcare. The purpose of HC students going on this trip was to help Panama attain sustainable healthcare and provide knowledge about nursing and medical fields in general. It also allowed HC students to experience a new culture and gain first-hand knowledge about the careers they hope to achieve post-graduation.
Mulder said, “It was a very eye-opening experience because we got to be immersed in multiple medical fields and it influenced everyone’s ideas on what they want to do with their lives.”
When asked about what she learned, Langer said, “how extensive the corrupt government was, as well as their need for medical help.” The group faced many problems, such as the language barrier and dealing with the newly-elected Panamanian government. Langer also highlighted the need for local healthcare in the city. The locals would walk many miles only to stand in lines for hours to receive basic healthcare. Langer and her team hope this wasn’t a one-time trip for the college. They hope that this will be something future HC students can contribute to and further in the future. The Brigades chapter on campus is hoping to plan a presentation and spread the word about travel opportunities even while they are already planning another trip for next fall during block one again.