Nursing department planning a service learning course

Hesston College’s Nursing department is planning a new elective course to offer students opportunities to learn and serve in other cultures. Faculty member Sondra (Wedel) ’80 Leatherman leads the initiative.

“I went to Tuba City, Ariz., for a nursing interterm course when I was a student at Hesston,” Leatherman recalled. “That experience is so valuable to me—I still use illustrations and stories from that month in my teaching today.”

The two credit, three week course will be open to nursing students and alumni. The first week will cover history and culture of the area to which the group will travel and a review of how nursing care can be adapted to provide clients with culturally relevant care. Then students will spend two weeks on location. The service portion of the course will focus on health care but may not be limited to health care.

Leatherman is making contacts and exploring opportunities to take the first group to Appalachia, perhaps the Harlan, Ky., area in May 2010. Future trips may go to other parts of the U.S. or to other countries. Cost for the course is to be determined.

“Students in recent years have asked for these kinds of opportunities,” Leatherman noted. “We have two students from this year’s class traveling to South Africa this summer. Another graduate has gone to Haiti once and is planning to go again. Another of this year’s grads has asked me several times, ‘Are we ever going to do a medical mission?’

“These cross-cultural experiences have meant a lot to me. They fit well with Hesston’s mission and values. And they’re life changing—they’re the memories that students will take with them always.”