Selkirk College Nursing Program's RIce and Beans Dinner is back!

By Contributor
April 7th, 2024

Who? Selkirk College’s International Community Health Nursing Program in Guatemala
What?  Rice and Beans Fundraising Dinner
When? Friday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m.
Where? St. Rita’s Parish 513–7 Ave in Castlegar

This May, a group of three senior Selkirk College nursing students will be participating in a four-week international community health nursing practice experience in Guatemala. Castlegar residents may remember the annual rice and beans dinner fundraiser put on by participants in the program from 2006 to 2019. This year marks the return of the Guatemala Community Health Practice Experience, following a pause during the years of the pandemic.

Students are excited to welcome Castlegar community members back to share a meal and learn about this international community health initiative.

The Rice and Beans Dinner will take place at St. Rita’s Parish at 513–7 Ave in Castlegar on Friday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. Dinner is $15 minimum donation. Guests will enjoy a simple but delicious meal of rice and beans along with cornbread, coleslaw and a variety of desserts. There will also be a silent auction with fabulous items generously donated by local businesses.

The Rice and Beans Dinner is the project’s biggest fundraiser and has been a part of the Selkirk College Community Health Nursing Program in Guatemala as long as it has existed. The dinner is accompanied by a presentation by the students and instructors about community health nursing, what the students will be doing in Guatemala and the work of the community organizations they are partnered with. The meal is an opportunity for members of the community here in the Kootenays to be included as partners in the project.

Selkirk College’s International Community Health Nursing Program in Guatemala has a rich history going back to 2006 with almost 120 participants over the years. Now, thanks to years of hard work behind the scenes, it is rising like a phoenix. The program will once again offer Selkirk nursing students the opportunity to step out of the classroom and into the real world to engage in international community health nursing.

The nursing students, will once again, be welcomed by their Guatemalan practice partners to learn from their experience how community development and health are positively linked. Students explore the impact and influence of health inequities on specific populations of Guatemala with a social justice lens. Working directly with community members and organizations, students explore concepts such as empowerment, capacity building, resilience, solidarity, and equity as they relate to health. The students engage in teaching and learning activities focusing on diabetes education, sexual health, oral hygiene and handwashing with adults, youth and children.

Students work in collaboration with a number of rural and remote communities in Guatemala. Students will work in urban Guatemala City and in the rural north of the country, specifically at Cooperative Nuevo Horizonte in the Peten region. All student work is community-based. Students are there to engage in relationship building, sharing knowledge and experiences, and learning from each other. The program’s community partners are well- established members of the communities we will be visiting, many of whom have worked with Selkirk College students since the program’s inception in 2006.

Mary Ann Morris, former nursing instructor for the Selkirk College Community Health Nursing Program in Guatemala, will be accompanying the group of students and instructors this May. She will be supporting the group through her long-standing, deep relationships with program practice partners in Guatemala. Her knowledge of the BSN curriculum, as well as providing translation and mentorship as the new team of instructors rebuilds this practice opportunity within the nursing program.

Students will be in Guatemala for the entire month of May, their time is divided between Guatemala City, and a village in the rural Peten region in the north of the country. The majority of their time in Guatemala they will be staying at Cooperative Nuevo Horizonte. Cooperative Nuevo Horizonte is a small community founded in 1998 after the signing of the peace accords which ended the 36-year civil war in Guatemala. Cooperative Nuevo Horizonte was founded on the principles of solidarity and social justice. Since 2006 Selkirk College students have created relationships and learned in partnership with community health workers at Cooperative Nuevo Horizonte. These relationships and partnerships contribute to the health and wellbeing of all involved, and to our collective understanding that we are all connected.

The program is an example of a local initiative with a global reach, it is an opportunity for local students and nurses to stand with the Guatemalan people in solidarity with grassroots community health initiatives.

Many past participants have described the experience as life-changing. Students learn community health nursing first-hand by observing the connection between the health of the individual and the health of the communities they live in. Students bring the lessons they have learned from this international community health program home with them and apply their knowledge to their nursing practice here in Canada.

The life-changing experiences past participants have had in the program have helped them understand how nurses can support vibrant healthy communities like ours. Global experiences for local nurses allow them to apply the lessons they learned during a brief experience with another culture in another country to a lifetime of providing better nursing care for thousands of patients here at home in the Kootenays.

Everyone interested in learning more and supporting the project is invited to join the students and their instructors on Friday, April 12 at 5:30 at St. Rita’s Parish in Castlegar.