Why I chose to go to a developing country and loved it

We flew into the country around 10 p.m. on Jan. 2. My heart was racing. The flight crew announced we would be getting off of the plane from the back. I thought, “I never realized they could hook one of those hallway things up to the end.”

I could not have been more wrong.

On our journey back to the states, we boarded the plane from the tail-end just as we descended it at the beginning of our adventure to Guyana.

We walked down the airplane stairs right onto the tarmac. Everyone had their phones out preparing to snapchat the unfamiliar circumstance when most of us realized we did not have phone service. Through my phone camera lens, I saw a tattered building under construction, a structure resembling a home and a few planes stored off to the side.

We approached the home-like building only to figure out it was baggage claim and customs. What kind of airport was this?

Going into this, I knew it would be a different experience. I knew we would not have phone service unless we paid for an international plan. I knew Wi-Fi access would be limited. I knew it was a developing country. I knew people would be poor. I knew I would see things that in the states would be considered dreadful and horrific.

Yet, somehow, these people were (mostly) content with their lives.

Being from the United States, I wanted to experience a culture outside the privileged one I live here. Not only did I accomplish this, but I also began to realize the image we think of when we imagine developing countries is skewed to fit our mindset.

Most people who have not been to a developing country and are from the U.S. might think of the commercials we see on TV of starving kids in huts who have no clothes. While that perception of developing countries is not wrong, as many developing countries have these aspects, it is not all they have.

A wide variety of cultural booths can be found outside of Stabroek Market in Georgetown, Guyana.

They have a community who deeply cares for one another; a community who makes use of the resources available to live the best possible life. While diversity is a huge aspect of Guyana, people there identify as Guyanese, despite their African, Amerindian, British, Chinese, Dutch, Indian or Portuguese roots. Guyana has a society that takes pride in their country, even if, by some American standards, it isn’t a place to which many people would willingly move.

Tell any Guyanese on the street where you are from, and the first thing they will greet you with is, “Welcome to the greatest place on Earth.”

To the people of Guyana, life isn’t prioritized around technology and connecting through a screen.

Life in Guyana is about living in the moment, as you are, where you are and as best as you can.

And that is an amazing perspective I will carry with me forever.

Advertisements

What Guyana taught me about my fears

It’s Jan. 6 and we’re exploring Stabroek Market in Georgetown. I’m following our group, lead by Denroy Tudor who works for the Ministry of Public Health, taking in the crowded and packed market. It soon becomes clear that Tudor is working on gaining us access to the clock tower that stands high above the market.

IMG_0122
The first tiny, winding and hole-filled staircase.

In my head, I’m thinking, ‘Wow, what an experience! We’re going to get to do something that not even all the locals do.’ 

It never occurred to me, that we would have to climb to the top …

… on winding staircases that aren’t completely closed off…

…that you can see straight through.

Back in Texas, my mom can’t even get me up more than one ladder step because of my fear of heights. Now, here in Guyana, I’m hurriedly following my group and trying not to get lost in the throng of people and products.

Before I know it, before I can process it, I’m ascending the steps.

I grip the handrail as my heart pounds against my chest and I’m trying to keep my emotions in control.

IMG_0116
Looking down at the market from the halfway point.

‘I want my mom. Right now. I need her,’ plays on repeat in my mind.

I make it half way, I’m told.

There’s only one more winding staircase between me and the top of this clock tower. I mindlessly trudge on, determined to take step after step and only think about that.

I can’t turn around, not really, because there’s the rest of my group behind me on this tiny, winding, hole-filled staircase. I shift my gaze from the market below me when sunlight begins to infiltrate my peripheral vision.

I emerge onto a patio of sorts, with a 360 degree view of the market. Bright buildings, cars and umbrellas are visible in every direction, except for the side with a gorgeous view of the Demerara River.

IMG_0069.JPG
View from the top of the clock tower.

For a moment, I forget about the internal struggle I faced to get myself up the clock tower. I forget about the fact that I will have to go back down the tiny, winding, hole-filled staircases.

I look around at the city that has been my home for the past four days. The city that has welcomed me with open arms. This beautiful city filled with beautiful souls.

Before I came to Guyana, I was filled with so much anxiety about being away from my mom, my lack of respiratory therapy knowledge and my skills as a reporter.

As I’m staring at the people and cars below me, I’m also taking in the people surrounding me. My instructor who brought me here, my teammates who never fail to make me laugh and the respiratory therapy students who happily teach me about their work.

I’m realizing that I have it within myself to try new things, to accomplish things no matter how much they scare me. And, just as importantly, I have people in my life to help me along the way.

I go down the stairs with an adrenaline high. I don’t see the holes below me, I don’t trip over myself as much on the tiny steps and this time…

…there’s a smile on my face.

IMG_2390
Me smiling on top of the clock tower. Photo by Holly Wise/Global News Team.

Photos by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team

A Look at Guyana

While it may not seem like a spot for tourism, Guyana has lots of natural beauty along with historical sites and landmarks that have a deep meaning to the people that live there.

A group of Texas State students visited Guyana on a study abroad trip and in their downtime were able to visit many of these spots. Guyana is ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse with many groups being represented throughout the country. Watch below for some clips of the places the students saw as they traveled.

For more information on tourism in Guyana please visit http://www.guyana-tourism.com/

Texas State provides respiratory care in Guyana

*DSC_1075
Texas State University respiratory care students, Jennifer Cruz and Bobby Shane Rodgers, intubate an intensive care unit patient at Georgetown Public Hospital. Photo by Alana Zamora / Global News Team.
*DSC_1333
Respiratory care student, Bobby Shane Rodgers, carefully measures Ipratropium Bromide Solution to insert into a nebulizer for a patient’s treatment. Photo by Alana Zamora / Global News Team.
*DSC_1334
Georgetown Public Hospital patient receives a breathing treatment under the care of Texas State University respiratory care students. Photo by Alana Zamora / Global News Team.

To see the Texas State University respiratory care students in action at Georgetown Public Hospital, watch the video below:

 

Respiratory students tour through Guyana

By Katie Burrell

Study abroad students dedicated a day to touring in Guyana in between their time working in hospitals and schools.

The Texas State respiratory care students and Global News Team visited a museum, church and historical landmarks in and near Georgetown, Guyana on Jan. 6, the 5th day of their trip. The students traveled by van to markets for souvenir shopping and views from a clock tower.

 

Texas State students visit child care center in Guyana

Students from Texas State University brought donations to Sophia Care Center Jan. 12 in Georgetown, Guyana, with Bridges Global Medical Missions.

Claudette Heyliger-Thomas, medical director of Bridges Global Medical Missions, first visited Sophia Care Center in September 2016 to administer general medical examinations on the children.

After seeing some of the center’s other needs, she decided to go back in January 2018. Along with donations, she brought with her 10 Texas State students who had been in Guyana for two weeks working with Bridges in a study abroad program.

IMG_1017
Heyliger-Thomas made 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the center with the help of Texas State students.

IMG_1024
Marilyn Ferley-Thompson [left] and Heyliger-Thomas [right] collected donations from family, friends and various organizations starting last year. Ferley-Thompson, who works for Bridges, said they chose to work with Sophia Care Center after learning it housed the largest number of kids [97] in Guyana, based on data provided by the Ministry of Public Health.
IMG_1019
[From left to right] Katie Burrell, Xiomara Ojeda and Jennifer Cruz helped Heyliger-Thomas [not pictured] make sandwiches. Burrell is a journalism student and Ojeda and Cruz are respiratory therapy students.
IMG_1041
[From left to right] Stephanie Kelley lead Jennifer Cruz and Jacki Brewer as they transported donations to Sophia Care Center. Donations brought included a toothbrush, lip balm and toy for every child.
IMG_1082
Amber Hazelett [left] and Bobby Shane [right] hung up shower curtains in the center’s bathrooms. Shower curtains were one of the needs Heyliger-Thomas and Ferley-Thompson noticed on their last visit in Sep. 2016.

IMG_1085
Xiomara Ojeda helped with the hanging of 12 curtains, six in each bathroom. The students used zip ties to hang the curtains, as the shower rods were too thick for the rings supplied in the kit. Below is a time lapse of Jennifer Cruz showing how students hung the shower curtains.
IMG_1132
The students [pictured in yellow or blue Bridges Global Medical Missions shirts] and mass communication lecturer Holly Wise [in yellow] passed out sandwiches and drinks to the children. Staff were able to keep leftover sandwiches for another day.
IMG_1145
Wise helped Heyliger-Thomas and students pass out toys to the children. Children were allowed to pick out one toy each, with crayons as the most requested item.

IMG_1155
[From left to right, in blue or yellow] Bobby Shane, Ashley Skinner and Katie Burrell hand out Bridges Global Medical Missions tote bags with a toothbrush and lip balm to every child in Sophia Care Center. The beach balls around the room were brought by Bridges and blown up by the Texas State students. A child at Sophia Care Center then hung them up around the room for decoration before they came down at the end of the day as gifts.
The Texas State team left Guyana the following day, returning to Texas to start their spring 2018 semester.

Photos and videos by Skyler Jennings/Global News Team.

Advertisements

An immersive study abroad program in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication