Cultural Awareness Matters

J-term nursing mission trips began back in 1984 as the dream of an OBU nursing graduate, Rhonda Peacock, who went to serve as a nurse in Guadalajara, Mexico. “Rhonda worked at the Mexican American Hospital in Guadalajara. During furlough she came to visit with us. She said she would like to have students work with her during J-term. It seemed like the perfect time,” says Lana Bolhouse, dean of the School of Nursing at OBU.

“ That year, we took six students. We left on December 31 and worked for three weeks. Our students stayed with Mexican families that we located through a language school in the area. The families were familiar with hosting foreign students, although most of them did not speak English,” she says.

The trip was very successful and it was a life-changing experience for many of the students. The program continued on a biannual basis until 1990 when it became annual. “Our contacts in Guadalajara moved on, so we didn’t participate in a mission trip for several years,” says Lana.

Jasmin Johnson, who joined the nursing faculty in 1998, had contacts in Haiti, and the mission trips resumed in 2000. “We’ve gone to Haiti every year now except in 2000 when we traveled to the Dominican Republic.” she continues.

“Wanda Robinson (assistant professor or nursing) and Jasmin received a grant from Theta Sigma Tau to do research on students’ cultural competence  are students more aware of cultural differences because of these trips? They studied three schools  OBU, Oral Roberts University and Baylor University  and they determined that, yes, the students who go on these types of mission trips were more culturally competent; they have a much higher appreciation of cultural differences,” Lana says.