Jessica Barnett

Saint Michael's College

Enrolled as a second-semester-second-year nursing student at Universidad Andrés Bello, the semester flew by as I was constantly challenged both inside and outside of the classroom. The courses were largely lecture based and supplemented by group activities as well as weekly clinical and laboratory hours. The group work and clinical that filled my schedule enabled me to develop close friendships with the students in my classes. Although I was hesitant at first, I found I was warmly welcomed into social circles whenever I made an effort to engage in conversation. A small group of us often ate lunch together and the patience they showed me while answering my never-ending list of questions is something I will always be grateful for.

Throughout the semester, the clinicals focused on serving the geriatric population and I quickly realized expectations were no different for me than they were for the traditional nursing students. While at Fundación Las Rosas, a long-term care facility, we all had one-on-one time tending to patients and then developed individualized care plans. At a public health care clinic, we engaged with patients while filling out their annual evaluations and recording their vital signs. On my last day at the public clinic, I joined a fourth year student on her rounds of in-home care for individuals who were too sick to travel to the facility. As we were warmly welcomed into the various homes, I witnessed the intimate relationship the nursing student had developed with each family and the trust she had earned from the patients themselves.

As the semester drew to a close, I wrapped up my nursing education with a Middlebury Sustainability Grant Project. Using classroom material to guide me, I had chosen to write my Middlebury writing and cultural linguistics class research essay about the use of organic gardens as a means to improve community health. With the help of the grant, I was then able to volunteer for Tierra y Valle de los Niños in Pisco Elqui, Chile. Two inspirational women spearhead this organization which teaches sustainable living practices and allows children as young as five to cultivate their own gardens. During my week in Pisco Elqui, I led a workshop for the children highlighting green energy sources that are being used in the United States and in their own hometown. Finding a way to connect health and sustainability was a satisfying way to wrap up my semester, but more importantly I was left with a deeper understanding of how to build meaningful relationships with  whomever I worked with - just as the ones the fourth year nursing student had first exemplified.