While the latest student exchange program inbound (SEPI) of Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) may have recently culminated, the institution had surely inculcated in the arsenal of young Korean delegates not only the transformative experience but the transcultural nursing that should define the global healthcare terrain.
In an intimate closing ceremony, student representatives from Ulsan College, Cheongju University, and Mokpo Maritime National University (MMU) gathered at the Lecture Hall, RISE Tower on 17 August 2023.
The College of Nursing (CON) led the closing ceremony, stamping yet another internationalized exchange of academic and cultural understanding.
The singing of Lupang Hinirang and Aekgukga, the national anthems of the Philippines and South Korea respectively, marked the start of the program.
In an opening speech of CON’s high-powered clinical instructor Dr. Carmencita Pacis, the veteran educator emphasized the exchange program as “a very powerful era for our transcultural learning,” adding that the cross-border educators play a vital role in this academic thrust to shape international learners.
“We have to teach them [students] the significance and mold them to become culturally sensitive and globally competitive as well. Educated young people are our greatest [asset] to defeat global threats,” she strongly stated.
In the same speech, Pacis also recognized the hard work of SEPI delegates whose struggles to adapt to the culture of a foreign country were apparently evident in their one-month stay at OLFU.
“There were some moments that you want to give up but all of these learnings will mold you,” Pacis said as she concluded her remarks on a confident note that the delegates have been equipped to attune to the realities of the world.
To complete the special rite were testimonies of the Korean delegates whose narratives only vouched for the life-changing exchange program at OLFU, not only because it shapes the professional depot of young learners but primarily due to the cultural weight it offers.
Young intern Nancy, a Nursing Major at Ulsan College who immersed in a comprehensive nursing immersion at Fatima University Medical Center (FUMC) started with an unforgettable share of memories.
While expressing her gratitude to the professors, nurses, and administrators who were behind her memorable overseas internship, the future healthcare asset recounted what she described as “a whirlwind of learning, growth, and experiences.”
From landing for the first time within OLFU’s perimeters with a grand cultural welcome to experiencing an actual childbirth delivery, Nancy has perceivably earned a catalogue of indispensable experiences, significantly fortifying her know-how this early.
“Imagine standing in the labor room, a place where new life emerges, where the miracle of childbirth unfolds. I had the honor of not only witnessing but also participating in this incredible process,” Nancy intimately shared.
“The moment I cut the placental cord and gently assisted in bringing a new life into the world, I realized the profound impact nurses have on moments of vulnerability and strength,” the aspiring nurse further said underscoring that “nursing is not just a profession; it’s a calling to be a source of comfort, support, and empowerment.”
On a personal degree, Nancy also noted how the same experience led them to appreciate their mothers, a profound gesture that was discovered only during the immersion.
As a circulating nurse at FUMC, the Ulsan delegate recalled the meticulous attention to detail and effective communication required within the governed medical spaces.
“It was my responsibility to announce the names of the doctors who would be leading the surgeries. This seemingly simple task held immense significance [as] it highlighted the importance of teamwork, clear communication, and coordination in ensuring the success of each procedure,” continued Nancy as she came to realize that every role, no matter how small it may seem, plays a vital part in the larger healthcare team.
Adding to the invaluable immersion of Nancy was also contributing a hand during a varicocelectomy procedure as a scrub nurse.
“Th[e] experience demanded precision, dexterity, and a deep sense of responsibility. As I stood alongside the surgical team, [I] realized that my role wasn’t just about assisting with tools, it was about being a guardian of patient well-being.
“The trust placed in me by the surgeon was humbling, and it reinforced the idea that our actions as nurses directly impact the lives of those we care [for], for these experiences have taught me invaluable lessons that I believe extend beyond the walls of the healthcare facility,” the young professional wisely avowed.
Before closing her testimony, Nancy had yet again acknowledged the people who contributed to instill in her the “importance of empathy, collaboration, and the unyielding dedication required to provide exceptional patient care.”
Representing the MMU were Kim Juyeon and Kim Jaehyung who individually expressed their gratitude for the English proficiency course and Maritime Orientation, an exchange course offered by OLFU.
“This student exchange made an unforgettable memory in my college life. I will remember the hot summer in the Philippines,” Juyeon quipped in a brief testimony.
Notably, Kim Jaehyung, in his testimony did not miss to recognize the hardworking guards who ensured their safety during the four-week language course at OLFU.
“Not only did you provide insightful lessons, but you also introduced us to Filipino snacks and culture in detail. I felt your care and learned consideration from you.
“I want to thank the friends [from whom] I learned and [who] lived with me for four weeks in a foreign country, and [I also want to] express my gratitude to the guards who ensured our safety,” Jaehyung humbly stated.
Another aspiring nurse, Jung Yoojin from Cheongju University, shared an interesting difference between healthcare education in South Korea and the Philippines, specifically for nurses.
“In Korea, [student-nurse] is prohibited to perform any medical treatment that affects patients. But here in the Philippines, I could do more than that in a hospital. I was able to assist the doctors as a scrub nurse in the operating room and manage the entire operating room as a circulating nurse,” Jung Yoojin recalled when she carried out for the first-time some theories to practice.
The nursing aspirant who was exposed to both the internship programs in South Korea and Philippines could only hope to see a revolutionary change in her country’s education system.
“The biggest thing I felt here was that the Philippines teach[es] student nurses many practical things, so they can do their jobs better when they become nurses.
“I think Korea need[s] to focus on practical education rather than theory. I think this is what Korea will learn from nursing education in the Philippines,” she stated.
OLFU administrators from the high-regarded faculty members of CON, program heads, to the office executives including Center for Professional Development and Academic Partnership (CPDAP) Manager Dr. Rodehlia Macaspac, International Coordinator Peter Hyun, Marketing Manager Irene Louise Gelle, College of Nursing (CON) Dean Maria Luisa Uayan, and College of Maritime Education (CME) Dean Francis Jay Dela Cruz witnessed the special ceremony.
Among the esteemed academic personalities were Dean Uayan and Dean Dela Cruz, who led the awarding of certificates to a total of fifteen inbound delegates.
As a prominent OLFU tradition by now, the ceremony also culminated with an exchange of customs when CON’s Nightingale Dance Troupe rendered a transcultural performance in the rhythm of South Korea’s Arirang, and Philippine folk songs Sayaw sa Bangko and Carinosa.
Nursing students of Ulsan College and Cheongju University delivered a Hallyu-infused dance number, an effective complement to cap off the cultural exchange.
By narrating a family vacation in South Korea back in 2015, Dean Dela Cruz sustained the tone of the event. In his closing speech, the CME chief emphasized the importance of adapting to a culture from a foreign country to later apply it in a professional setup, especially catering to a global working arena.
“These little things that you’ve learned from our culture and those little things that we’ve learned from [yours] will be brought in your professional careers as nurses, doctors or seafarers and shipbuilders,” the dean averred as he pointed out distinct traditions of two countries in terms of food, transportation, and economic progress.
Finally, Dean Dela Cruz hoped that aside from the academic aspect of the student exchange, the delegates “absorbed Filipino culture in a way.”
According to CPDAP, all Korean representatives had flown back to the Hallyu capital on 18 August 2023 – the day immediately following the closing rites. — Raymond Lumagsao