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CSC offers new seminar

Emma Russ | Friday, February 25, 2011

As part of a new Center for Social Concerns seminar, students will travel to Honduras this spring break to learn about health care options for Honduran people and interact with physicians and public health personnel, senior Michael Daly, a seminar student leader, said.

The course, titled Global Health Seminar, is a collaboration of the Center and Saint Mary’s College.

The seminar is located near Tegucigalpa at the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) Holy Family Surgery Center, where volunteer surgeons provide free surgeries to poverty-stricken patients.

Daly, a senior, said students will gain valuable medical experience in preoperative and postoperative care as well as sterilization of surgical equipment.

“Students are able to ‘scrub in’ on surgeries, allowing the students to stand next to the operating table and receive a closer look into the surgical procedures,” he said.

Sophomore Tiffany Fan said she excited for the hands-on nature of the seminar.

“I am extremely excited to interact with doctors and patients and be able to learn more about the intricacies of global health, all within the context of service,” she said.

The surgery center is located on the Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos Orphanage Ranch, home to hundreds of Honduran orphans. Daly, whose family established the surgery center, said students stay at the ranch and have the opportunity to share meals with the children, tutor and play with them.

Six Saint Mary’s nursing students will go to work at the surgery center in partnership with the six Notre Dame students who will attend each year, Daly said.

“The nurses are integral in the operation of the surgery center,” he said.

Members of the Notre Dame organization Friends of the Orphans (FOTO) have already participated in several trips to the surgery center. Their annual trip has been repurposed into the Global Health Seminar.

“I have always envisioned a curriculum to complement the service learning trips to the NPH orphanages in order to provide students with appropriate reflection about the experiences and opportunities to integrate their daily life through academics with service,” Daly said.

Senior FOTO member Sam Russ said he is looking forward to his second trip to Honduras.

“There are so many compassionate medical professionals that go down to help the poor of Honduras,” he said. “[Their example] has framed the way I see my future career as a doctor.”

Students will also participate in the religious tradition of the Honduran people.

“It is really cool to see their prayer in community and how excited they are to involve us,” senior Caitlin Nichols said.

Prior to departure, students will attend seminar classes to discuss various health issues. Senior Brittany Johnson, a seminar student leader, said the classes emphasize problems transcending national borders. Students will examine the role of international health agencies as well as the role of the Church in global health care, she said.

Daly said the seminar is rewarding spiritually and academically.

“The seminar brings the course information to life; you are able to put a face on poverty and see the impact one person can have on another through the power of God,” he said.

Johnson said she appreciates the unifying experience of the trip.

“My favorite part about working at the surgery center is witnessing medicine in its purest form,” she said. “The entire health care team has one mission: to heal the patient. There are no financial or hierarchical goals. There are no egos. It’s beautiful.”