Williamson Day 2 – First Health Clinic and Home Visits
Today, everyone once again started the day with breakfast at 8am and received the GPSA scrub top uniform. It was the first day to wear the uniform!
After breakfast, everyone loaded into the van and we were driven to a nearby senior recreational center, where the students put on a health fair. They used all of the skills they’d learned the previous day while interacting with the patients and giving them advice.
I was very impressed with everyone’s attitude and maturity. Although they might have felt stressed at times, everyone was able to successfully take blood pressures, BMI and blood glucose using the A1C.
Following the health fair, everyone went back to the hotel to have lunch. We had mac & cheese and tomato soup with salad. In the afternoon, from 2pm, everyone split up into groups. Half of the students went on home visits and half went to the town’s health clinic.
Sota, Monica and I (Ms. Peck) went on a home visit with one of the nurses named Kelly. On the visit, we met a man who lost his leg from the knee down and his visions due to diabetes. On the second home visit, we met a quadriplegic man who relied on 24 hour home care. Seeing people in such states was very eye-opening, especially since it is something that we rarely come across in Tokyo.
Following the visits, everyone came back and relaxed for a bit before dinner. Dinner was soup, cornbread and rice, with cupcakes for dessert. Then, everyone played games and finished up the night with reflection.
Skills practice & Williamson Culture Day
This morning, we woke up and were downstairs in the hotel kitchen in time for breakfast. I didn’t get to the kitchen until 7:55, but to my surprise, all of the students were already there playing UNO since 7am. Since some of them were late to breakfast yesterday, they made sure that they’d definitely be on time today.
Breakfast consisted of toaster waffles, fruit, and cereal. Then, we went upstairs to the hotel conference room to start the day’s training. Students received lectures on how to communicate with patients and how to take temperature, blood pressure, pulse, respiration rate, height/weight/BMI, and blood glucose levels using the A1C test. They also practiced these skills with Monica and Angela.
Following the morning’s lectures and skill practice, we had a quesadilla lunch and then headed out to the community health clinic to hear a talk by the town’s ex-mayor, who is now in charge of the clinic. He talked about many initiatives that he took to try to improve health and the well-being of the members of Williamson’s community. As a politician and community activist, he was one of many to help design health initiatives for the town including biweekly 5K races, a marathon, walking paths, community gardens, and a farmers’ market, among others.
He also gave us a quick tour around the town and talked about the history of segregation, illegal activity, and drug abuse in the town. This town has been through a lot of hardships, but recently it has many people supporting it, helping it to grow into a better place to live.
Next on our town tour, we made our way to the Coal House, which is the Chamber of Commerce combined with the town’s tourist center. There, a young man taught us about the history about the town, such as the fact that the town has flooded three times throughout its history and in 2011 the coal house caught on fire and almost burned down. We also learned the reason for the Coal House’s name – it’s made of coal! Go figure.
We finished up the evening with dinner prepared by a local woman – roast beef, potatoes and green beans, along with some instant miso soup left by a previous group. After reflection, the students went to 7-Eleven to pick up some snacks and drinks and then retired to bed to get a good rest for tomorrow’s first clinic and home visits.
– August 20, 2019
Today, we gave a presentation to some Canterbury College students. My group talked about calligraphy. A lot of people came to our booth, and they looked enjoying calligraphy so much!
When I practiced my presentation, I was afraid that I couldn’t express myself in English. However, I was able to communicate well with the audience. So, I was very happy. I thought that it’s important to never give up on anything.
Also, I took music class in forth class. I was surprised that they didn’t use chairs. We made a circle on the floor. I think classes in Japan are too serious!
The day after tomorrow is last day in Australia. I want to enjoy the rest of two days to the full.
(M.F., M3 girl)
Today, I had the last ESL lesson. I learned a lot of things about Australia in ESL lessons. Learning Aussie slangs was very interesting for me.
In the afternoon, we introduced Japanese culture to Canterbury College students. My group talked about Japanese cuisine and we gave them an opportunity to use chopsticks. Some students were able to use chopsticks well. Other people found it difficult. I am very happy if they have learned about Japan even a little at this opportunity.
At night, we made okonomiyaki and miso-soup for our host family. They were pleased and said, “Delicious!” We were very happy to hear that.
We will stay here only two more nights. So, I want to enjoy living here as much as possible.
(M.I., M3 girl)
– August 21, 2019
Today was the last school day in Australia. The classes in Australia were very interesting to me. My buddy was kind to me, and I enjoyed talking with her!
In the afternoon, I had BBQ with my buddy and my host brother. It was a very good time for me. It is the last day to spend with my host family.
We had a birthday party for Mizuki! We ate pavlova. It was very delicious! I want to eat it again.
I played “babanuki” with my host family. I really enjoyed it. I really like my host family. I really enjoyed my school life in Australia. I really enjoyed spending time in Australia for about two weeks. I think I can speak English better than before coming to Australia. I don’t want to go back to Japan. Thank you for everything.
‘(A.S., M3 girl)
Today is the last day at Canterbury College. Today’s lessons were with my buddy. Today, we had a BarBie with our buddy and some host families. We could look back this exciting two weeks. I was able to spend satisfying days and there were many important experiences. For example, Aboriginal culture, Aussie slangs, beautiful views, Aussie home culture, and Aussie animals. These were not something you can learn in Japan.
Tomorrow, we go back to Japan, but I will not forget these experiences, and I make the most of the experiences.
(R.O., M3 boy)
As I felt the warm breeze ruffle my hair, I looked out into the vast playground of the school. I couldn’t believe that I won’t be coming to Canterbury tomorrow. Unlike the warm breeze, I felt the chilly wind blowing in my heart. When I closed my eyes, memories flooded back into my mind; learning about Aussie culture, hugging a koala, going shopping with my host family, and laughing with my buddy.
The best thing in Australia was the people. All of the people I met here were so warmhearted and welcoming. The students at Canterbury were so welcoming that it made me feel like I was also a student here. The teachers also helped us a lot when we didn’t know something about the school. On the last day with my buddy, I had P.E.. Honestly, I am not a good athlete, and it was my first time playing touch football. As you can imagine, I slipped and fell down. A boy nearby rushed towards me asking me if I was ok. Australia was really warm; not only the weather but also the heart of people.
As I remembered the beautiful memories I made in Australia, it was as if a candle lit in my heart. The candle light warmed up my heart, and the sadness seemed to disappear. If there is a meeting, there is also a parting. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean saying goodbye is always a bad thing. In my case, it’s just a temporary goodbye because I’ve already promised myself to come back to Australia someday.
(K.O., M3 girl)
Trip to West Virginia
Today the group took a long journey to West Virginia from North Carolina. Everyone woke up and changed their sheets, and then had a quick breakfast of cereal, fruit and yogurt. A few students struggled to wake up, but we all eventually got loaded onto the bus by 8am, and we made our way to our new lodgings.
After about four hours of riding in the bus, our first stop was lunch at a highway rest stop restaurant, where the students could sample more typical American food. Some of us had tacos, chicken pot pie, and hamburgers, among other menu choices…
After a quick lunch, we drove a few more minutes to the local coal mining museum. Our tour guide loaded us all up on a coal train and drove us deep into the dripping, cold mine, which was about 400 feet underneath the Earth’s surface.
The tour guide was a miner himself, and he knew a lot about the mining practices in the 1920s up to modern times. He told us about the difficulties and dangers of the mines, like the fact that you had to bend down and squat all day, if you worked in a mine shaft with a low ceiling. He also talked about how to mine for coal in the past vs. the present, and what miners used to eat and drink at work (water, sandwich and cakes).
Our tour guide explained about poverty in the mining community, and how the people owed everything to the mining company. He made light of his own experience with poverty.
Overall, the trip into the mine was one of the highlights for most of the students, since the tour guide was very funny, knowledgeable, and personable, and he joked around with us a lot. He also told us about some of the health effects that his family has experienced because of mining, including about his grandfather, father, and himself, who all have something called black lung disease, which is caused by constantly inhaling particulate matter in the dusty mine shafts.
Following the museum, we made our way back to the bus and traveled another two hours to Welch, where a local women named Shanon prepared us a pasta dinner and talked to us about her job in the local school and the outreach program she started to help women dealing with addiction in the community. She talked briefly about poverty and drug addiction, and the students asked her thoughtful questions. Our time in Welch was short before we got back into the bus and braved a torrential downpour and some carsickness to our final destination – the hotel.
After 12 hours of traveling, we arrived safely at the Mountaineer in Williamson, our home away from home for the week. The students reflected on their good and bad experiences of the day with Monica. Many of them enjoyed the coal mine, but a lot of them had trouble with carsickness on the long ride. Honestly, though, I heard a lot of talking and laughing in the back seats, so I don’t think the car journey was all bad.
Tomorrow, many of the students are excited to finally get to work on their skills and learn how to treat patients in the upcoming days!