Monday, May 21, 2012

Navajo Cultural Immersion Takes College of Nursing Students to New Heights

Wesley Kyser and Cindy Dowds (front)
Kelsey Thiel, Whitney Hooley, Sharon See, Jacoby Baab, and Emily Thorne (back)

A 3 credit hour elective Navajo Reservation Cultural Immersion course was the basis for a recent week long immersion at the 16 million acre Navajo reservation in Arizona.  The trip was led by Ashland University nursing faculty Sharon See and Cindy Dowds.  Prior to the immersion, students studied culture care theory and collected baseline holding knowledge of the Navajo people.

Code Talker Wilford Buck with Jacoby and Wesley.
On the reservation, students worked with home care nurses at Tsehootsooi Medical Center in Fort Defiance and with children at the Navajo Youth Center in Window Rock.  During one of their home visits, students were thrilled to meet one of the only two living Navajo Code Talkers,  Wilford Buck.  During World War II the Code Talkers' primary job was to talk, transmitting information on tactics and troop movements, orders and other vital battlefield communications over telephones and radios.  Because they spoke in Navajo, the information was unintelligible to the Japanese.  Students went on many other memorable home visits. 

Emily loved the elderly patients.  This woman asked to be called "Grandma."
 Other highlights of the trip were holding two picnics for the children at the youth center, hiking the majestic Canyon De Chelly with a Navajo guide, and visiting the hogan of traditional healer Aaron Sams.

Picnic at the youth center.
Fun times with the children.

Throughout the immersion, students took photos to be compiled for a photographic representation of the Purnell Model for Cultural Competence, which has been accepted for a poster presentation at the Transcultural Nursing Society Conference in Orlando, Florida in October 2012. The course will be offered again in 2013.