On Dec. 5, the Connell School of Nursing hosted a commissioning mass for students and faculty who are embarking on global service and immersion trips to Haiti, Switzerland, Chile, Guatemala, Ecuador, France, and the Dominican Republic.
During the mass, CSON students, families, and faculty gathered in St. Mary’s Hall chapel to speak about their upcoming service experiences and pray for the victims of injustice whom they will soon be working with. Following the mass, each student received a notebook so they could track and share their experiences upon returning to campus.
The students, who will not leave the country until after the holidays, expressed high hopes for their upcoming journeys across the globe. At the reception, attendees discussed the trials and tribulations that may arise during their time abroad, especially the prospect of immersing themselves in a new culture and putting their studies to practice.
“There is no better way to explore how to serve people than by doing something like a service immersion trip,” said Sarah McCowan, CSON ’19 “The trip will benefit me as a nurse in the future because my trip will help me relate to people, different countries, and learning about them in that kind of way.”
McCowan also sees her trip to Chile as a chance to reflect on the role of faith in people’s lives, especially as a representative of a Jesuit institution. Shannon Conley, CSON ’20, is headed to Europe to concentrate on a different aspect of nursing she’s particularly passionate about.
“I am going to Lourdes, France, and I am really excited for this experience because my favorite part of clinicals in nursing has been the spiritual, psychological aspect of caring for people, so I am really excited to continue on that journey with this enriching experience,” said Shannon Conley, CSON ’20.
Before the trip, students meet once a week for a two-hour discussion, according to Rosemary Byrne, director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program and leader of the Dominican Republic and Guatemala trip. There, they reflect on what their service may look like and discuss their emotions as departure approaches.
This year, the group touched on topics like property, social injustice, and guilt stemming from the white savior complex.
“We’re not going on these immersion trips to change the world,” Byrne said. “We are truly there to work with the people.”
Byrne believes CSON students benefit from these programs because they foster the ability to work with patients who may not speak English as their first language.
In past years, students have reported that their experiences not only allow them to better understand barriers that nurses face in their everyday lives but also help them grow as people, outside of career prospects.
“Here in Boston, we have a skewed view of health care, having some of the best hospitals in the world to do clinicals at in the nursing school, and so [the immersion trips] expand a future nurse’s worldview,” Mary Simonelli, CSON assistant department chair and a clinical associate professor, and director of service trips to Switzerland and Chile, said. “They develop an appreciation for navigating through other healthcare systems.
“The mass was created to bring us all back and realize where we are going on each service trip. Wherever a student is going, we’re all together and get to share this special time together, with reflection, peace, and encouragement.”
Featured Image by Celine Lim / Heights Editor