Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Arms Wide Open

     In coming to Thailand, I was mentally aware that we would be faced with quite the language barrier. In preparation, I had made notecards with basic Thai phrases and rehearsed them in my spare time at work or sitting at home. Let me tell you, that pretty much got me through "hello" and "thank you." I quickly learned today, from our very patient Thai sisters, that the dialect and enunciation of Thai is a delicate and beautiful language that will take years of practice. Seeing that we only have 2 weeks here, I have never been more thankful for students willing to take on an American girl with a nasally Michigan accent. 
     Today we had the opportunity to teach a morning class of Sophomore Thai nursing students basic physical assessment. We were greeted by excited, giggly students waiting with anticipation to learn in a lecture hall. After introducing ourselves, two of our gracious counterparts volunteered to demonstrate in front of the lecture, a head to toe phyical assessment (in English). Following that, we broke up into small groups in the nursing lab of one NP student from our group and about 6-8 Thai sophomore students. In teaching a head to toe assessment with no Thai experience, and minimal English from the other side - we became quite good at charades. The students were enthralled with learning how to look, listen and feel to assess their patient - many times that being me. Wrapping up the small group session, the group insisted that we take a picture 'selfie.' Once again, I realized we were being schooled in taking selfies - or any picture in general. In attempt to thank the students, I put my hands together and performed my best 'wai,' or Thai bow, while saying "khaawp khoon kah," or thank you. A symphony of giggles errupted from my group. Slightly befuddled, I asked if I said something wrong. Immediately one of the girls came over and pushed my elbows down closer to my sides and motioned how to bow correctly without looking silly. We all erupted in laughter as I tried again, apparently failing once more - hopefully I will catch on by the end of our stay. 
     Our group in the lecture hall with the SUT sophomore nursing students.
     Following lunch, we were introduced to our Thai sisters that we would be paired with for the remaining 2 weeks. Once again, we were split up into small groups to review a more advanced head to toe assessment. These SUT students are in their senior year, and have a much broader scope of practice in Thailand than our BSN students in the U.S. They are in their community clinical rotation, and plan to spend a total of 6 weeks in the villages we will be placed in learning every detail about each family dynamic along with chronic and acute disease management. Determined and meticulous would be two words to describe the group of Thai students we are placed with. Over the next couple of weeks, I am excited to learn more about the culture, language, and individualality of each student we are placed with. They call us "phie" (older sister) and they are our "noong" (younger sister). Today we were greeted with open arms, and together we plan to live and work together to build a stronger community.
     SUT sophomore students learning basic assessment
Getting ready for orientation!
Breaking into small groups to discuss community needs

Excited to learn much more,


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