Twelve students from Belmont recently spent three weeks in Geneva, Switzerland and the area around the city in a unique study abroad experience full of firsts. It was Belmont’s first study abroad to the city of Geneva, the first for a nursing clinical course, and the first for a shared educational experience with some students enrolled in community health nursing and others in a humanities course. The courses included a shared study of the book Frankenstein as Geneva is the setting for much of this classic’s action, The students had a first-hand opportunity to explore the book from literary, philosophical, historical, psychological and public health points of view. The courses were taught by Professor of English and French John Paine and Associate Professor of Nursing Ruby Dunlap.
The group visited the International Federation of the Red Cross, which focuses on humanitarian, disaster and health initiatives, where they listened to presentations on the health implications of safe water and sanitation, and on training and education in public health. Later, the class spent a couple of hours at the World Health Organization, listening to presentations on the global efforts to reduce hospital acquired infections and on issues related to the global shortage of nurses and midwives.
The group learned that the Geneva of Jean Calvin’s time was a city of refugees, people fleeing persecution of one kind or another. Today, Geneva is a center of international cooperation, with headquarters for the United Nations and some of its divisions, as well as agencies such as the Red Cross and the International Council of Nurses.
The class visited many historical and cultural sites such as Chamonix, a village in the French Alps which sits in the valley below the “Glace de Mer,” the largest glacier in France. Other highlights included visits to Chillon Castle and the Lausanne Cathedral; a trip to CERN, Europe’s atomic particle accelerator, which provided the setting for our disaster response discussion; and the Museum of Natural History with an exhibit on malaria that provided the perfect opportunity for an onsite discussion of infectious disease and vulnerable populations. The group learned that Geneva is a unique city in history, culture, and agencies which serve the interests of the global community.