Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) has a history of association with groups who care for and serve people in need throughout the world. This tradition continues in a formalized academic manner through the Transcultural Nursing Experience. This experience provides an avenue for personal and professional growth beyond the traditional boundaries of classroom and clinical practicums.

The Transcultural Experience began in 1972 at the Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing. The first step beyond the traditional classroom and clinical setting was a six-week experience in Harlan, Kentucky, where students participated in giving nursing care to individuals and families in the setting of their own homes. Since this venture was such a success, it was decided to continue offering different types of transcultural experiences.

Today at Illinois State University’s MCN, students have the opportunity to examine nursing care in a location that is culturally different from central Illinois. The experience offers eligible nursing students the opportunity to participate in a 1–2 week transcultural experience.

This year, students could travel to Brazil, England, and Russia. Transcultural Faculty Advisor Lynn Kennell accompanied six students to Brazil, Transcultural Coordinator Melissa Moody accompanied six students to Russia, and three students went to England.

Brazil side of Treis Fronteras - the 3 Frontiers of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

The Brazil side of Tres Fronteras, the three frontiers of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

Kennell has taken students to Brazil before, but each trip there is always something new for the students.

“Students are consistently impressed and changed by the warm hospitality and welcome they receive throughout their time in Londrina, Brazil,” she said. “Host families, Universidade Estadual de Londrina (UEL) faculty, nurses, students all welcome them with a Brazilian ‘abrazo e beijo’ (hug and kiss). Although the system of healthcare is different than in the U.S., this year, especially, students learned that nurses focus on patient safety and holistic care just as we do in our country. They may approach these outcomes with less technology, but they are dedicated to high standards.”

MCN has a great relationship with Vladimir Medical College, and for several year students have visited Russia, but this was the first time for Moody.

“The value and beauty of this exchange became so much more crystal clear seeing it through my own eyes and fully taking it all in,” said Moody. “The relationships that have formed over the years with this exchange are rich and irreplaceable. I think I can speak for the group when I say that I have never witnessed and personally felt so much hospitality and shared gratitude for what this exchange offers to all involved.  It was an experience of a lifetime for which we are all grateful.”

Students were asked to keep journals of their experiences.

“It is wonderful to read how much these experiences impact our students,” said Kennell. “It is truly a life-changing experience.”

Read the students’ journal from each trip: