Zambia was very different from the United States. I expected it to be different, but I was still surprised at how unlike the States it was.
One of the big things that I noticed in regards to the health care setting was the lack of supplies. Panadol (aka Tylenol) was the medicine of choice for every patient. When there were patients from a car accident, I could not believe that all they had received upon their arrival and stay, including those with multiple broken bones, was Tylenol. Any open wounds received extra care by being covered with gauze, from covering cuts or an amputated leg, to binding plaster of paris to form a splint. It also surprised me that the damp dusting was done with gauze because of the limited supply of rags.
Another shocking comparison was the availability (or lack thereof) of doctors in the hospital. Most of the time if we needed a doctor in the ward we had to hunt down the one doctor that was working in the hospital for the day. I did not witness many emergencies, but if there had been more than one urgent problem at a time, I do not know what would have happened to the patients that were in critical need. It is very possible that one or both patients could have died.
The nursing school was also different in Zambia than what I have observed in the U.S.A. One big thing that was unusual to me was the fact that all but three students were first year students. When I asked Precious, the student I was shadowing, about this, she told me that the school only had enough funding to allow new student entry every three years. Talk about different than the states!
The format for lectures and clinicals there was also strange to me. Doing class work for three months and then clinicals for three months seemed odd. After I thought about it, I realized that it was not all that strange, and seems to be working well for the students. We get our core science classes done in the first two years, similar to the way that they do them in the first three months. I prefer the way that the U.S. mixes clinical experience with classroom learning, but the nursing school in Zambia has a system that works just fine.
Lastly, there were two obvious dissimilarities in the way that I worshiped in Zambia and the way that I worship at home. First of all, after the service there was an interaction time between an elder and the audience regarding the sermon. The elder would ask the crowd questions to make sure that they had been paying attention and understood the message. My church does not have interaction like that. Questions and comments are accepted if someone wants to initiate it, but there is not a set time for discussion. Secondly, a big difference was the way that the Zambians worshiped with dancing. As a girl with Baptist roots, I have never experienced dancing in worship like they did. Anyone can clap their hands, but much more than that is most of the time frowned upon. Personally, I loved it!
During the whole time I experienced Zambia, I learned so much about the bigness of the world and the smallness of how I view things. People every day do things differently from the way I am used to, and it amazes me how that works.