Since 2009, Tulsa Community College has sent nursing, dental hygiene, and music students to Nicaragua with JustHope. While these service-learning trips are incredibly beneficial to our partner communities, they are also both rewarding and educational for the faculty and students who participate.
Nursing students have learned about rural health care, assisted with community health education projects, and practiced basic health services. Dental hygiene students have offered teeth cleanings and gone into schools to teach children about dental health. Music students have conducted music camps, working and performing alongside a renowned Nicaraguan musician. In addition to giving these students valuable educational experiences, service-learning trips also gave them life skills like confidence, adaptability and a greater understanding of the world outside of the classroom.
A TCC news article about an early dental hygiene trip with Debbie Batson, now Dean of the School of Allied Health, explained:
Batson's students learned to work and thrive in an environment where not even some of the most basic necessities exist. . . Students who had completed their first year in the program told Batson that they could never be intimidated by anything that happened in their future clinical experiences. They now had confidence to handle any problem.
TCC and JustHope have made the most of the past year while trips have been suspended. JustHope was invited into an Introduction to Sociology class in Fall 2018, where students learned to conduct focus groups with past trip participants and learned how international travel and service broadens one's horizons.
Dr. Doug Price, TCC's Director of Global Learning and two-time JustHope trip participant, is committed to incorporating global learning components into TCC coursework and wants to use JustHope and Nicaragua as examples. Discussions are under-way to add JustHope-centric modules to a number of classes across the college. He remarks, he finds joy in creating opportunities for students to succeed: "You create the conditions for people to grow."
Dr. Gay Phillips, a Sociology professor at TCC and OSU-Tulsa and a long-time friend of JustHope, explains, "I'm always looking for ways to get students to expand their horizons, their thinking, their experiences, …and I don't have very many opportunities for that to occur internationally." Since not all students can take an international trip for that learning to occur, she thinks it's crucial to add those components into classwork.