It is hard to believe that a week has already gone by here in Nashville as a member of the Community Health Immersion. We have been a part of so many diverse opportunities it makes me wonder what else there could possibly be to see! Yet, I know that there is a great deal left to experience and I cannot help but crave more. Please let me just share with you several moments that have stuck out to me this past week:
The first thing I noticed when I initially walked into the Siloam clinic was the enthusiasm the staff had when greeting us. Everybody who was there shared a smile and the friendly atmosphere quickly took away any nerves or anxiety I have accrued the past several months – especially in the car ride over that morning. It was not hard to see that the same anticipation I had for Siloam, they had for me. This theme continued throughout the week as we encountered new staff and volunteers, members in the community, and the liaisons from our respective churches. Even as the week wore on and exhaustion began to set in, the happiness and joy I found in those I encountered kept the fire inside of me burning and made getting up in the morning worth it even more.
Another moment that I cannot shake from my mind happened on the first day. In the morning we had all been placed with an incoming refugee family for their first examination in America. Each family had an interpreter assigned to allow for the best care to be provided; it was amazing to hear that many of them were volunteering their time for this. I had the wonderful opportunity of spending the morning with a Bhutanese family moving here from their refugee camp in Nepal. As I sat in the main room listening to instructions being read and conversing with them through the interpreter I allowed for my ears to take in the sounds from around the room…or rather from around the world. It felt as if I had stepped into an international radio station as I heard words being spoken from all across the globe. It was very powerful to experience the clash of cultures in one small room, to know that through the chaos in the room they were being cared for through the love of Christ, and also to feel the sense of hope both in that main room and in the individual exam rooms.
In addition to following the refugees on Monday morning, there were plenty of opportunities to spend time with the providers in the clinic, and numerous orientations which helped us better understand what to look for and what to expect these next few weeks. Any excitement for this immersion I felt before can now be increased tremendously as I prepare to see how I will be used in the future and during this summer.
Elias is a participant in Siloam’s Community Health Immersion.