Four nursing students and two instructors from Panola College recently spent a week in the jungles of Central America providing basic health care to people in remote villages in the Toledo District of Belize. Dr. Barbara Cordell, Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences at the college has been taking students to Belize for the last fifteen years, for a course called "Transcultural Nursing". "Students learn how to provide nursing care without the sophisticated technology we have available in the US," says Cordell. "They have to use their senses to assess patients and provide nursing care". The group lives for nearly a week without running water or electricity and they often hike 2 to 4 hours to reach the villages where the descendants of the ancient Mayans still live in dirt floor grass huts. "We bathe in the river and pump drinking water from that same river", says Amanda Bickham, the other instructor who accompanied the students. "It was a life-altering adventure!"nursingbelize2

The students who participate must be strong students with a desire to learn about other cultures. Chandler Brooks of DeBerry, Chelsea Salas of Carthage, Christi Caudle of Shreveport and Susan Hardy of Shreveport earned an "A" in the course for their dedication to nursing by hiking and helping treat over 500 patients. This year the six from Panola College joined thirty other volunteers from Project Belize, a mission group providing health care for over 28 years. For more information go to or visit

 Photo 1: (l-r): Chandler Brooks, Susan Hardy, Christina Caudle, Amanda Bickham, Dr. Barbara Cordell. 

Photo 2: Chelsea Salas