In early January, a group of Nebraska Methodist College students traveled to Laredo, Texas, for the Winter Break Service Immersion.
Laredo is located along the United States border with Mexico about 200 miles from the southern tip of Texas. During the week-long immersion, students from NMC worked with Habitat for Humanity building a home in the area and worked alongside community health workers, known in Spanish as promotoras.
Promotoras are community members trained to provide basic health education in the community. Though they are not professional healthcare workers, promotoras play a vital role in educating their Latino communities about health issues and providing guidance in accessing community resources associated with healthcare.
NMC was able to make connections to promotoras in Loredo through a longstanding partnership with the Sisters of Mercy, an international organization that serves people who suffer from poverty, sickness or lack of education. Through the experience, NMC students were exposed to cultural barriers and issues related to immigration. In the process, students learned ways to use community resources for the benefit of their own patients and clients.
The trip was also a chance for NMC’s Center for Health Partnerships to further develop its own community health worker program in Omaha called Our Families’ Health. Members of Our Families’ Health also participated in the immersion. Working alongside the promotoras allowed them an opportunity to discuss and observe best practices that they could bring with them back to Omaha.
More to Come
Another service immersion is scheduled for March to Nashville, Tenn. During that trip, students will work with the Nashville Mobile Market and the Martha O’Bryan Center educating individuals about healthy food choices and how nutrition affects health.
Contact Volunteer Opportunities for more information about NMC’s Service Immersion offerings.