On February 6, twenty-three first graders converged upon the nurse’s office of Little Butte School. Teacher, Marcia Fecteau, led them through another stage of a multidiscipline project blending math, reading, writing, social studies, and vivid imagination. "We’re lined up to get our ‘penguin passports’ so we can go on a (fantasy) trip to Antarctica," Fecteau explained.
Staffing the nurse’s station, two SOU seniors checked the youngsters passport application papers. Next, they ushered each child in turn to a scale, checked heights and weights and recorded the results. "You don’t have your passport photo yet," aspiring R.N. Nundu Maingi told one young man. "Tell your teacher, you can’t get your passport today. The airport won’t let you on the plane without it."
After having attained a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Maingi had
begun a career as a chemical analyst. Four years later, an event she
describes as life-changing yet far too personal to explain, caused an
abrupt reversal of her direction. "I’m really glad I got into nursing
instead," she said.
Born and raised in Kenya, East Africa,
Maingi has spent three and one-half years at Ashland’s SOU campus. Now
in her senior year, she’s completing a ten-week clinical practicum in
Little Butte School’s nurse’s office. Upon graduation, she hopes to
return to Kenya and work in community health programs.
in Swahili, she also displays an impressive command of English. As a
child, she studied English in a missionary school. Kenya’s government
imposes a point system by which students qualify for the privilege of
attending the schools they prefer, she said. She’d garnered enough
academic points for admission to classes that included the language in
Asked about her candid impression of
America, she praised its technology, but admitted difficulty embracing
the taste of Western food. "I prefer vegetables fresh from the garden.
Here everything is refrigerated or frozen. That changes the flavor too
Maingi’s colleague, Phuong Nguyen migrated from
Vietnam seventeen years ago. Her family settled in Portland, where she
attended Portland State University before transferring to OHSU’s
two-year nursing program in Ashland. Always interested in the health
care field, Nguyen noted the acute shortage of available nurses in
Vietnam. Her awareness sparked compassion and idealism in her career
planning. "I want to work at something that helps people. I saw a need,
and wanted to fill it," she said of the goal she hopes to culminate
within a few months. Another commitment she anticipates with
satisfaction is the ability to take care of her widowed mom’s health
and financial needs.
Nguyen’s fluency in both English and
Vietnamese will prove a boon to future employers in Portland area
Both student nurses have had to
adjust to the climatic culture shock. After beginning life’s journey in
warmer sections of two different continents, they’ve now met probably
the worst winter the Rogue Valley could offer.
By F. C. Blake
Of the Independent