Hardest Goodbye

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January 24th 2019
Published: January 30th 2019
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Jan 24th,

This morning we had a meeting to evaluate the trip. One important part of Thai culture is “saving face,” so we were told ahead of time to only give positive feedback (even if they kept pushing for us to tell them things we didn’t like or thought they should change). Our teacher, then, is supposed to email them privately with any ideas for changing the program for next year. This is soooo different from American culture, where everyone feels more than welcome to speak their mind. I do, however, have to say that I wouldn’t like not knowing what people are actually thinking. This cultural preference also prevented us from being able to freely talk about our ideas and give and suggestions or critiques to improve the program.

After the course evaluation meeting, we got down and dirty in the home of an 80 year old man taking care of his bedridden wife and two bedridden sons with cerebral palsy. When we got there, we met up with other BCNC nursing students who were in the middle of their community clinical rotation. For this course, they immerse themselves in a community for an entire month and don’t leave the community. We just went for the day to help clean the family’s home and give the two men and their mother showers—their first one in two years. It was a very heart-breaking and eye-opening experience. It was definitely one of those moments that makes you step back and think how extremely blessed you are. While we were there, I asked around to find out what would happen to the boys and their mom if their father (the sole caretaker) passed away. The answer was disheartening. I was told by one of the Thai students that if this were to happen, everyone else in the family would likely die.

We wrapped up our time at the home and headed back to campus to pack take naps before starting our long trek to America. Departure was at 8:00. Our Thai buddies arrived promptly at 7:45 to help us carry all of our suitcases down to the busses. We loaded up and soaked up every last moment together on the bus. I sat next to my buddy, Kate, and we practically laughed the entire way there. Gosh, these goodbyes were so hard. We got to the airport and my heart sank a little bit with every step. Part of me was definitely excited to get home, but I knew I was going to be leaving some of my heart behind with these people and this amazing place. We quickly got our boarding passes at the check-in desk and were finally faced with the hard reality of saying goodbye before heading to security. We couldn’t leave without taking another million pictures (including the biggest group picture in the middle of everything). It was so hard to walk away, but after about 12398 hugs we got the courage to step on the escalator and wave goodbye to those who we grew to love in such a short time. I will never forget those sweet people.

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