ETBU Students Study Abroad Learning and Ministering At the Same Time
By Mike Midkiff
ETBU Public Relations
MARSHALL, Texas (6/27/13) - The integration of faith and learning is experienced each day while East Texas Baptist University students attend classes held on campus. The experience is expanded each May Term as students have the opportunity to travel abroad with ETBU professors. Just this past May, ETBU students were studying on five continents- Asia, Africa, South American, Europe and North America.
ETBU Assistant Professor of Spanish Jose Alonzo, Professor of Biology Dr. Catherine Cone, and Assistant Professor of Nursing Connie Wyszynski accompanied four nursing students, two pre-professional students, and one Spanish student to Ecuador.
According to Dr. Cone, moving the classroom from campus to Ecuador has life changing ramifications for the students as “traveling outside the United States helps everyone appreciate how blessed we are.” Dr. Cone co-taught the course Global Community Health with Wyszynski from the Department of Nursing. A Spanish course was taught by Alonzo.
The Global Community Health class presented the opportunity to compare community health issues between Ecuador and Texas. “Both have rural health problems, especially in terms of access to necessary health care essentials,” explained Dr. Cone.
“In this particular class we were able to see and discuss the pros and cons of socialized medicine. The students saw the differences in U.S. health care and Ecuadorian healthcare which helped them understand the problems in both systems,” Dr. Cone shared.
The students had a very busy travel schedule as they went to Quito, Tena, Shandia, Punibocana, Santa Barbara, Puyo, Banos, Chacauco, Apatug and back to Quito. They conducted six health fairs and performed health assessments to over 680 children.
A typical day while in country included tours of local clinics and hospitals, and time to visit with local physicians and nurses. The health fairs were conducted at local churches while working alongside Compassion International. The ETBU students took turns taking physical assessments of each child, testing eyesight, tending wounds and teaching children how to brush their teeth. The class also served with missionaries Steve and Carol Thompson with Global Outreach International who often serve as hosts to medical ministry teams.
“In some of the villages the people did not even know what a tooth brush was… can you imagine,” said Dr. Cone surprisingly. The ETBU group took over 1,200 toothbrushes and 800 tubes of toothpaste to distribute.
ETBU nursing student Melissa Albright of Lavon said the most rewarding moment of the trip for her came during one of the health fairs at a village. She was approached by a young lady who could speak English fairly well who shared with her about the eight-year-old she brought to the health fair and the difficult life he lived.
“Without thinking twice, I assessed the little boy by checking his heart, lungs, ears, eyes, throat, skin, and shared with him how God loved him no matter what,” said Albright. “I told him how great a kid he was and after I finished the lady thanked me so much for what I did. To me, I didn’t do much, but to that little boy he walked way knowing someone cared for him.”
“I had never seen the medical side of a study abroad trip before,” said Payton Beggs, a Speech Communication major and Spanish student from Wichita Falls. “I was able to learn not only about the spiritual needs in Ecuador but also the physical and medical needs present.”
“As a Spanish student at ETBU, I was able to soak up words and learn so much once the culture was real to me. My confidence in speaking Spanish increased with practice as I was motivated to speak Spanish more and more because I desired to build relationships and get to know the people we were serving,” said Beggs.
“We saw many very, very sick individuals and it broke my heart but it felt so good to help them,” remarked Albright. “Going to Ecuador confirmed my passion for nursing.”
The other students who went to Ecuador were Hannah Allen of Marshall, Caitlin Coats of Mount Belvieu, Ashley Gonzalez of Overton, Brittney Garner of Lake Jackson and Joe McRee of Longview.
East Texas Baptist University student Peyton Beggs took this photo of the mountains surroundingthe town of Tena, Ecuador. Beggs said when she snapped the picture that “the sun was setting and fog developed showing tropical yet mountainous landscape of Ecuador.” PHOTO: ETBU/Peyton Beggs.
East Texas Baptist University students and three faculty members traveled to Ecuador for a study abroad and ministering opportunity in Ecuador recently. Pictured are front row, left to right: Joe McRee, Caitlyn Coats, Peyton Beggs, Melissa Albright, Brittney Garner, Hannah Allen, and Jose Alonzo, ETBU Assistant Professor of Spanish. Back Row, Connie Wyszynski, ETBU Assistant Professor of Nursing; Douglass, local tour guide; Dr. Gabriel Chavez, local veterinarian; Ashley Gonzalez, and Catherine Cone, ETBU Professor of Biology. PHOTO: ETBU Public
East Texas Baptist University Assistant Professor of Nursing Connie Wyszynski interacts with a young child during a health fair conducted in Ecuador. ETBU students spent time in Ecuador for a study abroad class in which they studied and ministered in the country. PHOTO: ETBU Public Relations.
East Texas Baptist University nursing student Melissa Albright looks into the ear of a child while Carol Thompson of Global Outreach International looks on during a health fair conducted by ETBUstudents while on a study abroad trip to Ecuador. PHOTO: ETBU Public Relations.