Team Zambia in the local news :)

MaryJane Slaby, reporter from the Lafayette Journal and Courier attended part of our last class on Tuesday June 4th and on Thursday June 6th the article (link above) appeared in the local paper.

Go Team Zambia! 🙂


The final class meeting

The final class for Team Zambia was scheduled for Tuesday June 4 at 9:30am. I prepared the very detailed course evaluations and took them to class.

Completing the course evaluations

Completing the course evaluations

We began our discussions and students again had very thoughtful things to say:

  • Our team is connected together due to this trip; it is almost therapeutic to be able to talk to each other about it
  • However it is hard to talk to others about it because it is impossible to explain the depth and breadth of everything that we experienced, learned, observed, and how it is different from anything else we have experienced or observed before
  • There was a general feeling that no matter how much we tried to explain people would never really understand the full extent of the trip and program, and that there were no words that would do justice to explaining the experiences
  • It is impossible to pick a “favorite” part of the trip, because each day had new experiences and each day was one of the “coolest days of my life”
  • This program was very different from many other study abroad programs because it had very different goals and a very large service component
  • The team is a connected group and all became friends, and this too poses a challenge when talking to family as they do not know the rest of the group
  • Students feel they have changed due to this trip, and are also still processing everything that they learned and experienced
  • They all commented on how they gained confidence and skills over the two weeks, starting timid and tentative and gaining a lot of independence in working with children towards the end of the program
  •  They remembered when they were accepted into the program and how excited and nervous they were
  • They said they started the program with zero expectations and that was a good thing because they just took each day as it came and soaked in whatever they could learn each day
  • Even though we (the instructors) had tried to explain some of the settings, just as they are having difficulty explaining to their families, I don’t think we could ever explain Zambia (or any other country, e.g. India) to them in words – you have to experience it to understand
  • They have a different world view and different perspective after this trip
  • Some experienced reverse culture shock – upon re-entry to the US
  • They felt that this program and the activities they engaged in reassured them that they have chosen the right major
  • They mentioned that at the beginning of the program they felt like “impostors” because they were introduced as the experts in hearing, when actually many of them have never really seen patients before
  • They learned to appear confident, and not be terrified (or show that they are terrified) when engaging in a new clinical skill
  • They appreciated the trust and confidence we (the instructors) had in their ability to perform clinical tasks
  • They worked really well as a team, recognizing each others’ strengths and supporting each other
  • They also learned a lot about themselves through this experience, because the nightly discussions were a “safe” place to talk about their feelings, and it was OK to share thoughts
  • They appreciated the magnitude of the tasks they did in a short amount of time: 450 patients total seen in two weeks, something that in the US during their graduate program will take much longer to see that many patients with that variety of ear problems
  • Finally, Jenn and I shared with them what an awesome group of students they are! Right from Day 1, they got along really well, supported each other, never complained, never were critical of each other, showed amazing adaptability and flexibility, and in general impressed us tremendously and were a big part in making this program such a success
    • SO – thanks to the 12 students in Team Zambia and time to give yourselves a pat on the back!

When the discussion ended, I was in for a big surprise, and Jenn seemed to know what was going on (i.e. I was the only one wondering what was happening). We trooped into the classroom next door and Jenn set up the projector. I was overwhelmed to see that she and the students had put together a video thanking me for putting together the program! I was moved to tears as I am now again just typing this. As I said in one of my posts prior to departure, SLHS in Zambia had become my LIFE for several months. The amount of time, energy and effort I put into the planning this program cannot be measured and I was immensely touched by this act of kindness acknowledging my efforts. I was speechless and words cannot express my heartfelt thanks to each team member. The success of the program was definitely due to the entire team as well as all our community partners in Zambia – so my heartfelt thanks go out to each and everyone involved in this program!

To top it off – even more icing on the cake – the students had made a plaque to give Jenn and me and also another slide show on CD for us. What a lovely gesture. THANK YOU ALL so much!

We went outside on this beautiful day and took yet another team photo. And a reporter from the local newspaper (the Lafayette Journal and Courier) attended part of our meeting and interviewed a few students, so we are expecting an article later this week – watch the paper!

GO Team Zambia 2013!!!!

GO Team Zambia 2013!!!!

Departure from Zambia and arrival home

Lusaka airport - leaving Zambia with mixed emotions

Lusaka airport – leaving Zambia with mixed emotions

We landed in Amsterdam at about 10am, most of us having slept through most of the flight since it was overnight. Found our gate and we had about an hour to wander before it was time to get back on the plane for the flight to Chicago.

Amsterdam - a short wait

Amsterdam – a short wait

Another uneventful flight, and we landed in Chicago, and had a surprisingly quick exit through customs and our baggage arrived fairly quickly also. Our travel agent had a person waiting for us to take us to our chartered bus back to Lafayette.   So – we said good bye to Mel as she was leaving us in Chicago, met Jill’s parents who surprised her at the airport, and then found that there were three people wanting to get on our bus as they had missed their limo due to their baggage being lost en route from Finland. Turned out it was the visiting scholar in Dave Ertmer’s lab, and after checking with our travel agent and determining it was OK for them to travel with us, they got on the bus also.

On the Lafayette Limo bus for the final leg of our journey home

On the Lafayette Limo bus for the final leg of our journey home

The last leg of our long journey home….   We reached the Purdue union a few minutes before 7:00pm to find several families waiting to welcome us all home! Elizabeth’s parents and Jessica’s mother were there as also my husband and son. A really nice gesture from my husband – as each person stepped off the bus he handed them a rose saying “welcome back”!

DSCN4835 DSCN4834

Welcome back!

Welcome back!

One final group photo and a “Go Team Zambia” and we dispersed.

Final group photo - until our last class on Tuesday!

Final group photo – until our last class on Tuesday!

We will meet again on Tuesday for our final class session and de-briefing….

Day 14: Final Day in Zambia

Today (Sat June 1) is our last day in Zambia – and I am feeling very mixed emotions. On the one hand, of course it feels good that I am going home and will get to see my family. And eat home cooked food. And have a warm shower whenever I want to. But, the people and the country of Zambia have a space in my heart that is growing and growing. God willing I will be back again next year to this wonderful country and its wonderful people and get to know them some more and learn more about them. We had several “lasts” today:

  • The super running group of Jenn, Jordan and Kelsey did their last run: a 7-mile run
The elite running group!

The elite running group!

  • A second less intense running group went for a 1-mile run/walk
  • The yoga group had a final yoga session with Coach Anyea
Yoga group with Coach Anyea

Yoga group with Coach Anyea

  • Yoga group - final pose!

    Yoga group – final pose!

  • Hurrah – Jenn had hot water for her shower this morning! Strangely enough – I have been showering while she is out for her morning run, and only had one cold shower over the 2 weeks. However, when she has returned from her runs, she has had to endure several cold showers….
  • We had our last breakfast at the Zebra Guest House dining room – with toast from the new toaster obtained yesterday! 🙂 And some creative breakfasts being made by the students with the limited supplies!
Toast with PB and granola

Toast with PB and granola

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  • We checked out of our rooms at 10am with 2 rooms (ours and one other) assigned to us to use and keep all our luggage since our flight is late tonight. Several students brought their suitcases into our room and we had a good pile of them growing in the room!  Then had our last de-briefing session in Zambia on the front patio of the lodge. The discussion included talk about our last day at Beit Cure and the farewell dinner

After the discussion we took our last group picture at the guesthouse and waited for Emmie.


Last group pic at the lodge

Strangely, he came 40 minutes late, but we used that time to take pictures outside the lodge, as we climbed on the zebra two by two and posed. Jenn and I had to get a leg up onto the zebra with Kate’s help, but all the students were quite agile and got on easily! We also gave Mr. Kumwenda (Zebra Guest House owner/manager) our thank you card for the lodge staff and their tip – hoping that it gets to all the staff.

We all did this two by two! :)

We all did this two by two! 🙂

We also gave Emmie his thank you card and tip enclosed and he took us to the Arcades mall and we had our last lunch at the Mimosa Café – the same café where we had our first lunch on Sunday 2 weeks ago when we arrived in Lusaka. It was fitting that we had the very same waiter Isaiah!   Then it was off to Kabwata Cultural Village where everyone shopped for souvenirs in the huts. Everyone was pleased with their improvement in bargaining and bartering over these past 2 weeks and came away with lots of gifts for friends and family members. Emmie sat in the shade watching over us like a mother hen – he has been so kind and wonderful to us. When I went and sat by him in the shade after my shopping, he said he had opened our card and was so extremely grateful to us! He remarked once again how good our group has been and said he would pray for the success of all the students. We sat for a while waiting for others to finish shopping and played with a few small children wandering there – wishing I knew the language to be able to talk to them!

Wares on display at the Kabwata Cultural Village

Wares on display at the Kabwata Cultural Village

Kids playing football

Kids playing football

Group at Kabwata Cultural Village

Group at Kabwata Cultural Village

Jenn had a great idea at the village: to buy all of us a beaded necklace. So we did and gave them to the students once we boarded the bus – they seemed to be pleased!

After everyone was done we went back to the lodge for our final hours there – everybody completed their final packing (and some relaxing) and we then left for dinner – again at Arcades – by 6:30pm.

Relaxing in the "presidential suite" in the final hours in Zambia

Relaxing in the “presidential suite” in the final hours in Zambia

We all ate at the Mint Café – the third dinner there for Jenn and me. Students also converted their extra kwacha back to dollars and then it was back to the lodge to pick up our luggage and depart for the airport. As we entered the lodge Clement, the chef and the first person who had greeted us at the lodge late that Sat night when we arrived two weeks back came up to me and asked me to follow him. I did so with some trepidation wondering what was up! I followed him to the dining room and he said that they had prepared something for us to eat before we depart! What a nice gesture! It was a pot with chicken, zucchini, pumpkin and kale. I told him that we had just returned from dinner, but several students took up the offer and tasted the food before we gathered up our luggage.

Final pot of food from the lodge

Final pot of food from the lodge


Showing off the new beaded necklaces

Showing off the new beaded necklaces

Leftover snacks - Elizabeth won the contest for packing and bringing the most snacks to Zambia!

Leftover snacks – Elizabeth won the contest for packing and bringing the most snacks to Zambia!

Mr. Abel Mbewe arrived with his van for the luggage and after that was loaded we got into the bus with Emmie for our last ride with him! He drove us to the airport and we said our final goodbye, giving him a hug. He has been our constant companion these past 2 weeks and an invaluable part of the program! Now we begin the long journey home, first with the flight to Amsterdam and then on to Chicago – a long time to think and reflect on the amazing experiences we have had these past 2 weeks.

Final student reflection: Cheshire Homes

From Jordan:

We started off our last Wednesday here in Zambia with an all day visit to Cheshire Homes, a rehabilitation center and school for kids with physical disabilities.  Emmie picked us up at around 8:30 from the guest house, and we were all ready to conquer the day not knowing what we had in store for us, which is a feeling all too familiar to the SLHS team here.  When we arrived at Cheshire Homes, we all gathered, staff and children included, into a small room where we were greeted with the most wonderful and welcoming song sung by every single child there.  This was the first time we saw all the children, and I was definitely surprised at the range disabilities that I saw.  Some kids were in wheelchairs, some were shuffling and crawling on the floor to move around, and some had normal motor skills but maybe an intellectual delay.  The range of disability was a mile wide, and I knew that I should expect the unexpected at that point.

From that initial meeting, I went and I screened about eight children’s hearing, which was a task all it itself.  First we marched down the hill to get two children, then rolled their wheelchairs up the rocky and bumpy driveway, up the incline and into Sister Marjorie’s office.  Then we could begin testing.  We conditioned the kids once again to play the ‘high five game” and testing went pretty smoothly from that point.  The real challenge was getting from one place to the other due to some of the children’s disabilities, but the children never complained and were extremely independent when doing so.  After I was done testing, I was transferred to the therapy rooms where I really got to interact with all of the kids there.

Getting to know all of the kids was by far the best experience of the day.  Some kids had cerebral palsy, an amputated leg, other structural abnormalities, or cognitive disabilities.  This made the day even more of a learning experience because I got to discover so much about these specific disabilities and really got the chance to work hands on with theses kids.  I would say that the best part of the day was communicating with each child I encountered.  This could at first be quite challenging due to their particular disability.  Each child had his or her own unique way of communicating, and once I figured that out and got the hang of it the conversation was great!  I was able to play and interact with the child using their self-made language like nothing was wrong at all.

This day at Cheshire Homes network made me realize a couple of things.  First of all, it made me realize just how lucky each and everyone of us are to be born without the types of disabilities that these kids struggle with on a day-to-day basis.  I have never really worked so closely with disabled kids, and I can now say that I will never again take for granted the things I’ve been so fortunate to have like a functioning pair of legs.   Second, the children at Cheshire Homes had such a positive and inspiring outlook on their disability, and carried on their day like they could do anything in the world, which was very refreshing to see.  The staff as well promoted this attitude well too.   An example that stuck out to me was a song the children and staff sang that said,  “Although you may not have an arm or a leg, God always leaves you with something special.”  This message of self-esteem and confidence was very widespread within the whole Cheshire Home organization, and I think that’s extremely important.  Cheshire Homes is a fantastic and supportive place for these children to embrace who they are with and without their disability.   Lastly, working so closely with children with disabilities really stuck with me.  I had such a great time interacting with them, that I could see myself later in life becoming very passionate and directing my career toward working with disabled children.  We have so much to learn from then, and it was nothing but a rewarding experience getting to know and learn about each and every child there.

Update from Amsterdam…

Our last day in Zambia and we had no wifi all day! So, this brief update is from the Amsterdam airport as we are waiting to board our flight to Chicago….

More about our last day after we return…