The practical nursing instructor at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Burridge campus had been to Ukraine in 2003 with a church missionary group and thought immediately it would be a great learning experience for her students, the CronicleHerald reports.
"I thought this would be so incredible if I could share this experience with my students," she said Wednesday.
And that’s how Nurses Building Bridges was born.
Ms. O’Connell and 10 nursing students and nurses spent eight days in Odessa, Ukraine helping orphans and street children. They took the trip through World Hope International, a church group.
At an orphanage, the students played games and made crafts with the orphans to assess their developmental stages. Jennifer Robicheau, one of the students, said she was surprised to see so many babies in the orphanage.
"I almost had to tell myself they don’t have a mom and a dad. The orphanage is their family," she said.
Students also got to help nurses at the city hospital and visited a drop-in centre for street kids.
Amanda Theriault, another nursing student, said she found it interesting to compare health care in Ukraine and in Canada.
"All their procedures are simple and to the point and ours are really complicated, but we end up with the same result," she said.
Ms. O’Connell said she’s always been a firm believer in learning by doing and encouraging students to do things outside of their comfort zone.
Although this is the first time she’s taken her students to a foreign country, she expects she’ll do it again.
"I can’t see why I wouldn’t," she said.
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