Tag Archive for Refugees

Caryn’s Big Word

Ariel McKenzie, BSN Candidate 2018, BUNDLE Scholar

The encounter I had with Caryn happened at the International Bible Church in Clarkston, Georgia. My service learning group was delegated the task of encouraging language nutrition amongst refugee mothers and children as a part of the Mommy and Me family literacy program. Encouraging mothers to engage their babies and children as their conversational partners can be difficult when a language barrier already exists between the volunteer and the family. I had the privilege of working with the young toddler class and the ease with which they pick up words boggled my mind at times.

Caryn, a young toddler from Vietnam was one of the more social kids in her group. She would come into class and made sure all the volunteers saw how pretty she looked that day. She played with all the children and chatted away as she moved from station to station. The room was equipped with playing stations that included cars, blocks, a play kitchen, books, and a large box filled with treasures buried in dried black beans. There was a stipulated schedule for each day and play time was the first item on the list. When I came into class on a Thursday morning, I sat down by the cars and train playing station and began talking with the kids. On any given day, few kids even respond to my over-the-top excitement and enthusiasm, but Caryn thought it was so funny. She came and sat at the station with me and we began to play with a green bus. The bus had a Triceratops dinosaur on it and I thought it would be worth a try to see if she could pronounce the word Triceratops. I pointed to the dinosaur and said di-no-saur slowly and clearly. She repeated the word “dinosaur” with ease so I proceeded to say Tri-cer-a-tops. She sounded out the word and within minutes, she was calling every dinosaur in our bucket a Triceratops. I was shocked to say the least. Few kids even spoke to me and here was one that was sounding out a word that some elementary school kids rarely use.

Empirically knowing according to Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing involves scientific, evidenced based practice (Johns, 1995). Approaching our encounter empirically, I acquired some background knowledge through the Talk with Me Baby training that my service learning coordinator organized. Through the training, I learned the importance of engaging children as soon as they’re born as our language partners and promoting language nutrition within the family. The training provided evidenced based methods for language development in children and the results of implementing those methods as early as infancy.

In addition to applying an evidenced based approach during my interaction with Caryn, I applied Carper’s aesthetic way of knowing by grasping the nature of this specific encounter and acting according to what I believed was appropriate (Johns, 1995).  I noticed Caryn’s behavior in class and I knew she was an outgoing, eager learner. She demonstrated no intimidation while happily playing and talking to the other kids in the class. Taking into account her personal attributes, I thought that encouraging her to pronounce a word might benefit her language development. Additionally, the likelihood of Caryn trying to pronounce that word was high based on her natural curiosity.

Carper’s personal way of knowing begins with the nurse firstly knowing herself (John, 1995).  By addressing my prejudices and being willing to set any obstructive biases aside, a smoother interaction with the kids can occur. Having many close friends that came to the United States seeking a better quality of life, I knew that I was biased in Caryn’s favor. I’ve witnessed my own peers struggle to learn English and how successful they’ve been with continual effort. I know learning a second language can be challenging especially when a person is still learning new words in their native language. However, it can be done and I hope for nothing more than to see the students in the literacy program excel in their language development.

Carper’s ethical way of knowing entails differentiating right from wrong and taking appropriate action (John, 1995). After reflecting on the interaction I had with Caryn and my service learning experience in Clarkston, I conclude that the right action was taken. The families that participate in the program want to be there. They want to learn English and skills that will make their transition to living in America easier. This is why I believe encouraging them to reach their maximum potential is the right thing to do. Even though my interaction with Caryn might not seem extremely important in the grand scheme of things, it was. The satisfaction children experience when they successfully grasp a new skill is one even I remember. The least I can do is help kids experience that satisfaction while enhancing their language development.

My service learning experience in Clarkston differed from other experiences I had with people because this time I felt like I was representing something bigger than myself. Not only was I serving on behalf of Emory’s school of nursing, but I was a nurse to those kids. They didn’t know that I’m only in my first semester of nursing school. I was wearing nurse’s scrubs, so, therefore, I was a nurse. Our service learning group might have been the first nurses the kids encountered since moving here and I really wanted them to feel safe and happy around us so trust could be established instead of fear as early as possible. I’d like to think that with every human encounter that I have while I’m in uniform that I have the opportunity to increase a person’s trust in health care workers. The techniques I used to guide the conversation were building rapport, smiling, over enunciate, and offering positive reassurance. These techniques were helpful because the kids were very young and they often shy away from adults if they sense the person is unenthused. Hopefully, the program will continue to thrive and Caryn’s vocabulary will continue to grow.


References

Johns, C. (1995). Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22(2), 226-234. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2648.1995.22020226.x

A Global Health Opportunity in Our Own Backyard

Jessica Nooriel, junior BSN student and BUNDLE scholar

In my first semester of nursing school, my volunteer hours were spent at the Friends of Refugees program called Mommy and Me in Clarkston, Georgia. In this Family Literacy program, mothers are taught ESL while their children are exposed to the English language as well through language nutrition. This intervention is based upon evidence and multiple studies, and these studies have shown that the more exposure to words a child receives in his or her first few years of life, the higher their chances of achieving literacy in his or her younger school-age years and the better chances they have of attending university and obtaining jobs later in life. So, in short, language nutrition is of utmost importance, especially for this population of refugee children who are being raised in homes in which English may not be used often.

After my first semester volunteering with this program, I had spent sufficient time in the various classrooms interacting with the children and I thought that I had a grip on what public health meant for this community. It was plain and simple. Learning the language was the most important factor in the process of these refugees becoming integrated into American society, so I thought.

This semester, my second at the nursing school, was when I began my full population health clinical. Coincidentally, I was placed at the same site as where I volunteered last semester, the Friends of Refugees Mommy and Me program. Since I had spent some time volunteering at Mommy and Me last semester, I thought I knew what to expect for my clinical portion of population health at Mommy and Me. As before, I thought I would arrive at the Clarkston refugee school, be introduced to a new class’s teacher, and then spend the morning speaking and playing with the refugee children of that class until their mothers came to retrieve them at noon.

During my second clinical day at Mommy and Me, though, all of my expectations were exceeded. This time, I felt more empowered. During our pre-clinical meeting in the morning, we discussed our roles as student nurses in this clinical—which involves responsibilities such as noticing refugee children who may have health conditions that aren’t being treated or observing community-wide health issues or gaps in knowledge. This time around at Mommy and Me, I was given a task and a tangible goal, to improve the overall health outcome of the Clarkston refuge community, whether through individual or community actions.

My morning began as I expected. I joined an older toddler classroom, where I aided with snack time, played with the children during playtime, and gave the children as much language nutrition as I could. However, after lunch, my instructor took my group to a refugee resettlement agency, New American Pathways. All we were told was that we would be helping the agency with a program they were planning. I went into this meeting with few expectations.

When I walked out of the New American Pathways building after our meeting, I felt empowered. I felt that my one year of nursing education could already be used to make a difference. The opportunity that we were asked to help with was a Women’s Sexual Health Education class for Middle Eastern and Eastern African Refugee women involved in the North American Pathways organization. My clinical group was given the responsibilities of finding reliable academic sources, creating an appropriate lesson, and fully executing the class when the day came. The education of these women now fell in our hands. And we could feel the immense responsibility that we now all had. We have just begun research on topics in women’s health, and my excitement is growing with each step in the process.

In my time at Mommy and Me, I feel that this experience will equally benefit me as it does the refugees we interact with. I will have my assumptions challenged, and I will come out a more aware and conscientious person. Since my own parents came to the United States as immigrants just two decades ago, I am gaining a better glimpse through interactions with the families at Mommy and Me, just what my parents went through on their journey toward making the United States their new home.

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Jessica Nooriel is a junior BSN student. She chose nursing for its holistic views on both preventative and curative medicine. Her passion for exploring the various health practices and beliefs of different communities and cultures drove her to join the Emory International Nursing Students Association (EISNA). She is tri-lingual in English, Farsi, and Hebrew, and hopes to use these skills for interpretative services within health care.

My BUNDLE Experience

Kevin_CurrieAs a future nurse, I hope to develop a strong base of critical care expertise by working in an ICU before pursuing a doctorate in nurse anesthesia practice. As I develop professionally as a nurse through college and into my career, I strive to go beyond simply caring for patients and hope to make a meaningful impact in the field of nursing and beyond; that is to say that I strive to become more than a nurse; I want to become a nurse leader. And that is why I joined the BUNDLE Program.

The BUNDLE program has prompted me to visit a fascinating exhibit at the CDC about refugee crises, question what it means to be a leader, and practice my public speaking and networking, among other things. As a man who has wanted to be a nurse for at least six years now, the questioned abilities and masculinity, lack of male mentors, and numerous attempts of redirecting my career ambitions had set doubt in the back of my mind.

The BUNDLE program has offered me an immensely supporting community of beautiful human beings that has given me confidence to cast aside doubt in pursuit of my goals as well as offer constant support through trying times. I believe that a nurse’s holistic way of thinking, constant interactions with society’s marginalized individuals, and highly recognized and respected title help to more fully comprehend and address some of society’s shortcomings and public health needs, in particular.

I see nurse leaders not as leaders confined to the domain of nursing, but rather as unrestricted leaders with unique and valuable qualities; the word “nurse” is a badge of honor to be worn in front of the word “leader”. The BUNDLE program has helped me come to that realization. Thanks to the stimulating activities of the BUNDLE program, I am increasingly more drawn to develop and apply these unique nurse leadership traits in hopes of confronting and combatting some public health and societal issues through research, advocacy, and action.

Byline: I am currently a third year student from Nashville, Tennessee pursuing my BSN at Emory. In addition to my BUNDLE Program involvement, I am in the Honors Program, VANAP Program, and serve as secretary of Emory’s Men’s Water Polo team.