Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Have Decided That After 10 Years

I have decided to act "as if" I will return to Guyana in September.  Let me tell you why:

This time I needed to "ponder", more than other years.   Of course, I had the usual concerns over my age, energy and family commitments.    [My family supports me 100% and wishes that I didn't go.]

A Legacy - Inflated Ego or Student Benefit?
My contemplation difficulties centred more on whether I make a difference to the education of nurses there.   Yes, I know and love that I have impacted the lives of over two hundred nurses.     My pondering has to do with leaving some sort of legacy change... someone there to pick up the torch and teach the PBL course - or even the essential subjects!  I have missed two years over my time there and both times the students received... no psychology, no sociology, no ethics...  Scary, eh?  I do find it depressing.

I have found that while the "important" subjects in professional education like nursing -- say Anatomy and Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology are seldom a major worry when in clinical practice.   Imagine a nurse coming home all frustrated from a fight with her colleague over which is the 6th cranial nerve ... unlikely!  The stressors of professional life are in the areas of relationships, self-worth and correct choices.   Don't think I am picking on nursing, as it is the same in medicine and ministry.

I have set my personal goals to focus on establishing structures that will allow my courses to be taught without me.   Ideally, I'd love to see the Problem Based approach used; however, I'll settle for anything workable.  To this end, I have asked the hospital and school to consider implementing some of my requests for this September.

If the school is not able to accommodate my requests, I will probably not return in 2015 unlikely.  I know that I will be sad.    But that is not today's worry.

Do I have the Energy to go the Distance? 
Hey, once I am there with the students and the girls from St Ann's, I have all the energy I need.  

It is all the work and begging beforehand that makes me tired.   I have had so many loyal and generous friends over the years who have made my journeys possible and successful.   I am not anxious to tell them that I [and really my students] still need them and their generosity, but my lottery ticket strategy doesn't seem to be working as an alternative.

This may seem strange but a motivation to return is the more threatening question, "Do I have the energy NOT to go?"   Staying at home would require me to find something new and different project in which to invest my energies.    

So I have committed to act "as if" and go ahead with plans to return.   If I discover before September that the plan is creating more frustrations than not, I'll change my decision.

If I was only going alone...
 Last year was a good year, I had lots of support from my North American volunteers Bev and Dennis, a local faculty member, Elsie, who helped with the coordinating of the programme, and the three UG graduates who were the small group tutors.  (They all received a graduate course credit from University of St.Joseph, Connecticut, thanks to the efforts of Marylou Welch, a retired faculty member and long time friend of Mercy Hospital. )
Then, there was the Mental Health Team from Grand River Hospital [Peter, Sujay, Ram and Brenna] who spent a full week with Bhiro Harry exploring the possibilities of future involvements with the Guyanese -- and they did and will return this fall with specific goals.  [I'll write more about this team and what they hope to accomplish.]
There is also a congregation in Ohio who want to be involved with Mercy Hospital.   You may wonder "Ohio?" Their pastor is a colleague of one of my disciples, Deborah.    They want to assist in any way possible, with construction, maintenance, landscaping, nursing, and/ or teaching.   I hope to go to Ohio this spring to further the development of this partnership.
I have a retired doctor from Montreal who seems willing to commit to help with the PBL course at Mercy for the full three months.   He is also interested in other involvements in Guyana as well.
Their assumptions are that I will be at Mercy as usual.

Is Ten Years a Tradition?
I have developed a rhythm to my last decade that I have enjoyed and found meaningful.   Yes, nothing and certainly no one lasts forever; if I do return this year, there will come a year that I decide - or life decides for me - that I will not be there... Of course, life will go on.    
I can't claim a long term pin from Mercy, as I have only been part time; however, there sure aren't that many Mercy employees who have been there longer than I have.   I don't know what that says, but it seems significant.
The Guyanese are dominated by the hope of getting out one day... emigrating almost anywhere else.   So anyone who keeps coming back when they don't have to be there is a symbol of hopefulness - in them, Mercy and Guyana.    It is no secret that Mercy Hospital is struggling to survive and needs all the support financially and personally that we can offer.   I consider my self a small offering to the hospital's future.

So Much for Humility
I am a good teacher.  I have fun and my students enjoy the adventure of learning about nursing and themselves.   Last year's students sang "To Sir With Love" when I left.  Very corny - even in the movie - and I liked it.
I do make my students do a serious evaluation of everything and everyone involved with the course; three of the average [Modesty prevents me from including the top ones.] comments about me were:

  • Rev John's teaching was Excellent!! I have learnt so much from him. He has taught me to think outside the box, not only within the box.  He has helped me to be a more motivated individual.
  • It was attention grabbing, short, precise and unforgettable.  He insured we understood our topics to a "T". He questioned us mercilessly  [LOL J] only to bring out the best in us.
  • Rev. John was an excellent teacher.  He gave me more attention in my homework and presentations and challenged me - that motivated me to push harder and research properly - and leave him speechless.

How can I not go back and inflict myself on another batch?   And my girls at St. Ann's are expecting "The Second Annual Father John's Photography Contest"!   So I will act "as if" I will return,, because TIME GOES and if I keep waiting to decide, it will be September.    I will keep everyone up to date on my possible return...