CEDARVILLE — One small team of Cedarville students plans to serve more than 90 different people groups within the span of six days.
By traveling less than 600 miles away to what has been called the most diverse square mile of the country: Clarkston, Ga.
From May 14-20, a team of 11 from Cedarville will serve in Clarkston, a town that has become home to refugees from all over the world. The team will be led by Dr. Brenda Pahl, assistant professor of pharmacy practice. It includes two nursing students, six pharmacy students, one RN and one linguistics student who will assist with translation.
“I hadn’t thought about how or when I would ever use my French, I just knew I loved studying and speaking it. But this opportunity, to serve as a translator among Cedarville’s nursing, pharmacy students, and the French-speaking immigrants in medical clinics, will be such a valuable ministry to the community there,” said Rachel Fletcher, a junior linguistics major. “I’m very excited to serve using my God-given gifts.”
While in Clarkston, the team will provide health care screenings at three different refugee clinics. They will also visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta and attend multicultural church services as part of their experience.
“Considering how expensive medical care is, my hope is that our trip will, even in the smallest way, ease the community’s burden caused by health issues,” said Priscilla Songate, a sophomore nursing major. “I am also very excited to have an interpreter on our team because the language barrier is a major issue in the refugee community.”
“This trip is an exciting opportunity to gain awareness of the health care needs of refugees within our own country,” said Sarah Piraino, a second-year professional pharmacy student. “As students, it is important to learn how to interact and assist people from various cultures and difficult backgrounds in order to someday provide them the best health care possible.”
The trip is through Encompass World Partners, a ministry that serves in 34 countries around the world. While Cedarville has sent teams through the ministry before, this is the first medical missions trip. The team hopes that it will be the first of many in the years ahead.
During Cedarville University’s annual missions conference in January, Cindy Burban, director of community engagement in the school of pharmacy, initiated a meeting with John Harrison, a 2007 graduate, who now represents Encompass World Partners as a missions mobilizer.
“Our discussions lead to multiple connections and eventually this exciting opportunity,” Burban said.
“Working with a refugee population is a unique experience,” Pahl said. “Instead of going to one country, you get to go to multiple countries in one trip without ever leaving the United States. It allows us to reach out to many different populations and people that have gone through a lot.”