TWC students provide health care, community service on spring break mission trip in Costa Rica

Posted on: March 14, 2014

A group of 26 Tennessee Wesleyan College students, faculty, and guests traveled to the mountains of Costa Rica for a cross-cultural service experience during TWC's spring break.

A group of 26 Tennessee Wesleyan College students, faculty, and guests traveled to the mountains of Costa Rica for a cross-cultural service experience during TWC’s spring break. Thirteen nursing students from TWC’s Knoxville campus and five students from TWC’s Athens campus joined with five faculty members and three guest RNs to provide health check-ups in remote areas that included Santa Rita, Penjama, and the Maleku Indian village of Tonjibe. The TWC nursing team served 300 patients, ranging in age from 1-month-old to 92-years-old.

"I left for this trip expecting to bless other people, but looking back on it, I was the one who received the real blessing,” said Kathryn Inman, a TWC nursing student. “This experience was life-changing and I learned things about myself that can't be taught in a school setting."

The TWC team was headquartered in Ciudad Quesada at the Centro Rural Methodisto Center with United Methodist missionaries Marion and  Mary Woods.  The camp is located high in the foothills surrounding the Arenal Volcano National Park.

Under the supervision of Dr. Robert Cornette, Mrs. Lisa Kirkland, and Ms. Debora Coyle, the nursing students checked blood pressures, blood sugar rates, vision, and provided other routine health exams that are indicators of wellness. Vitamins and toothbrushes were provided to all patients, along with glasses and other over-the-counter products, as needed.

Patients rotated through health stations and enjoyed making crafts and doing Bible school activities conducted by TWC students under the supervision of Dr. Chris Dover and Dr. Nancy Gregg. One morning was spent touring the public hospital in Ciudad Quesada, where team members learned about the social medicine system of Costa Rica and got a first-hand look at the country’s medical practices.

The TWC team ended their spring break in Costa Rica by zip lining along the top of the rainforest canopy across eleven cable stations, through lush tropical greenery, over a waterfall, and ending on the canopy floor. They also hiked, had a tour of the Arenal Volcano Observatory, and enjoyed relaxing in the thermal waters of the Tabicon River.

“The TWC students and faculty members really worked together to serve the Costa Rican students, their families, and the communities we visited,” said Dr. Nancy Gregg, TWC assistant professor of education and psychology and coordinator of the master of science in curriculum leadership program.

“Senior nursing students helped junior nursing students with their clinical skills while pre-nursing and other students also had the chance to participate in both health checks and Bible school activities. All of this occurred in a setting that is radically different from the students’ home surroundings. It is humbling to know that we are so blessed, and that knowledge creates in us a desire to truly ‘go into the world’ as the Bible tells us so that we can share the Gospel and serve our brothers and sisters, whatever their needs may be.”