by Jane Weis, Assistant Professor of Nursing
Ever since I read the mission statement when I first came to NNU, the word transformation has been my focus for the students. God taught me that transformation occurs through the lived experience of service. In 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
I prayed for God’s help in this new endeavor to provide experiences that would lead to transformation. God started opening doors to opportunities for my students to serve, allowing them to grow in different ways and learn how to serve different populations in the community.
In 2013, I met with some of the refugee coordinators, and they shared their story of how they came to America—each story was a difficult journey. When I asked how the nursing students could help, the refugee coordinators informed me refugees were in need of prescription glasses. Without the ability to see, it was difficult for them to have jobs.
With this direction, the students spent hours making phone calls and advertising in order to organize a vision screening and raise money for prescription and reading glasses. That fall they saw their work come to fruition.
I remember the first service project, the Refugee Vision Screening at the Boise St. Alphonsus Medical Center. There was a long line of people waiting for the vision screening to start, and we started wondering if we would have enough glasses to give to those in need.
I watched as the students could hear multiple languages that were unfamiliar to them. The languages included Karundi, Dari, Farsi, Swahili, and Burmese. All in all there were at least 10 different languages we heard that day. The students didn’t realize there was so much diversity in Boise. It was wonderful to see the students working with the interpreters and other groups in the community; they demonstrated they could organize a successful service project on their own.
The refugees were appreciative of the glasses given to them, and thankfully we had enough prescription and reading glasses for those who needed them. There were 75 refugees who were seen that day, and about 25 reading and 25 prescription glasses were provided.
As I read the reflective journals, I realized the students learned much about other cultures during the vision screening. They learned many refugees have a difficult journey to America and they can help make their journey a little easier. To date, we have had five dental and vision screenings.
These service activities would not be successful if the students did not go beyond what is asked of them. Each time the community has asked for help, the nursing students have given their time and talent as wonderful stewards of God’s grace. From participating in mobile health clinics to traveling to Tanzania for a medical mission trip, the students continually amaze me at the generosity of their spirit. Each year they are asked to share their time and talents with different service projects, and they become change agents in the community.