The first time I saw her, I had to blink twice. Here we were, a group of young Deakin nursing students, standing in the sticky tropical sun on an island so remote it was powered by generator only half the day’s hours. As hydrocephalus (a medical condition causing increased pressure to the brain) overwhelmed and swelled the young girl, I stood frustrated at the injustice of what inaccessible healthcare meant to the people. At the beginning of my third year of my Bachelor of Nursing, I hardly had sufficient clinical knowledge to serve as a nurse here in Australia, let alone around the world. Yet the opportunity that had arisen from Deakin’s international pathways had led me here, to make a difference in this moment.
The study tour, hosted by Deakin’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, took my team and me to the Philippines. It was beyond beautiful. The streets were like a museum of many cultures mixed in together, representing a colourful history for the people. As a tourist, I was amazed at what it meant to simply meet the individuals who called the islands home. Opportunities to work alongside local nursing students meant learning non-pharmaceutical regimes that assisted affordable community health. This included herbal and natural remedies, tools we would use continuously over the coming weeks.
The tour led us to complete numerous health assessments on young children and their families. This included both one-on-one mentoring and community-based talks that involved speaking to large groups of people. Many problems we faced were impacted by a lack of understanding about the importance of hygiene and nutrition. Though I didn’t hold years of experience under my belt, I understood the value of education and the power that empowerment could bring to individuals and communities. Given the opportunity to simply go as a student, I was amazed at how much we were able to bring. You are easily empowered, when someone trusts your training and, for me, Deakin did just that. The tour led me to develop skills in leadership, creativity, clinical knowledge, life experience and teamwork as we orchestrated community-led educational seminars – both for children and their families – to tackle issues head on.
Reflecting back upon the application process, it wasn’t all fun and games to get here. And in all honesty, I almost didn’t go. Was I ready? Was I good enough as a student? I questioned everything. I decided in the end, the risk of taking a chance on something like this went beyond just helping myself to gain experience. It was about the people I was to meet, and the opportunity Deakin granted me to lead, that would in turn have a greater impact on my studies and myself.
This risk, as huge as it might have been, meant that over 1500 needy children and their families were provided with the education they needed for a bright future. Not only did I grow in ways I might never have been able to here in Australia, but I was also awarded a scholarship for my time in the Philippines. Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Will it be hard? Sure. But the experiences, the people you meet and the differences you make far outweigh the struggles you might face along the way.
Hope is a powerful weapon in the journey to freedom and perhaps, just maybe, you might be next to empower someone’s world for the greater good.
For further information about studying at Deakin and to view the many degrees on offer, visit our international student page. Or ask us a question by visiting our international student enquiry page – we’re happy to help you get to know Deakin better.