Department of Nursing
Dr. Thomas White
Senior nursing major Crystal Glover didn’t go home to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, for the holidays in December. In fact, her final holiday season as an Edinboro student was far from traditional.
While most of her classmates took a break from their studies and spent time with family and friends, Crystal devoted her time off to treating critically ill patients in Tanzania, Africa, with the Work the World Organization.
“I have always loved traveling and helping others,” Crystal said. “I knew I wanted to do some sort of volunteer work using my nursing skills.”
Determined to make her dream a reality, she found the Work the World opportunity and contacted EU’s International Student Services for assistance. Crystal received Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Study Abroad Award and the EU Study Abroad Scholarship to help defray the cost of her trip.
After more than a year of planning, she departed Pittsburgh International Airport on Dec. 12 with a suitcase full of medical items to donate once she arrived at the end of a 22-hour flight.
She spent three weeks volunteering in the intensive care unit at Mount Meru Regional Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania. There, she worked predominately with patients in the late stages of malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, diabetes, heart disease and severe trauma.
“The hospital was extremely under-resourced,” Crystal said. “The entire intensive care unit shared a single oxygen tank and one blood pressure cuff. Most of the doctors did not have stethoscopes, and gloves were a rarity.”
While in Arusha, she also made several visits to the Neema House orphanage, a rescue center for abandoned and orphaned babies. She spent hours playing games with the 43 children and infants who call the orphanage home.
Due to a shortage of clean blood for transfusions in Africa, mothers die during childbirth at a much higher rate than in countries with modern medical facilities. Without access to basic medical resources, many children lose their parents to AIDS or other illnesses.
“Many of the patients die. It’s very sad,” Crystal said. “One day, I went into the hospital and almost a third of our patients were gone, but when patients improved, it reminded me why I love nursing.”
In the evenings, she took Swahili lessons, explored the nearby markets, sampled local cuisine, and learned as much as possible about the customs and traditions of the Tanzanian people.
“As a future nurse, it is important to gain exposure to other cultures in order to be prepared for the diverse populations nurses encounter,” she said. “This experience improved my understanding of the importance of cultural competence care, which is the ability for health care professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.”
Crystal and her group took a few days off from working in the hospital to travel six hours to Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Upon completion of a Life Experience Portfolio, which includes a daily journal and a summary of the experience, she earned three credits toward her degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with minors in biology and psychology, which she received in May.
“The experience was amazing. It was difficult being away during the holidays, but it was also a very interesting experience,” she said. “I was exposed to diverse health issues only found in books, such as working with communicable diseases and advanced pathologies not prevalent in the United States.”