A recent volunteer, Roslyn Coltheart, answered some questions to allow us to share her experiences as a visitor to Bangladesh and a staff mentor at IUBAT. Roslyn held a unique volunteer position as she was not an instructor to the nursing students, but rather, a mentor to new permanent faculty at IUBAT. She is pictured above with faculty members and students at the 71st orientation program for new students (“Fresher”), for spring semester. In the picture from left to right: Faisal (nursing student), Roslyn, Tutal (IUBAT graduate and now faculty), Khadizia (IUBAT faculty, graduate of armed forces medical college and the first non-IUBAT trained staff), Tahamina (IUBAT graduate and now faculty), Tithi (nursing student), Shoykit (nursing student), Shuvashish (IUBAT graduate and now faculty), and Elma (nursing student).
What were your roles/responsibilities in Bangladesh and when did you become involved with the Bangladesh Health Project?
“I first came across the Bangladesh Health Project in 2013, when I read an article in the American Journal of Nursing. At the time, I had just moved from Australia to Canada but filed the information away for future reference. In early 2015, I applied to volunteer with the Project. Initially hopeful to be there for the September to December 2015 semester, I had to delay due to Canadian immigration difficulties and arrived January 7th 2016, staying until April 16 2016, during spring semester.
At this time in the Project, six IUBAT graduates had been hired as teachers and I was the first volunteer to join the project, not as a teacher myself but as a mentor for these young teachers. My roles and responsibilities were very autonomous and self directed. My main focus was not to teach, but to help guide the teachers to develop their confidence, teaching styles, assignment setting, exam marking etc. I would sit with teachers before class and help them prepare, join classes and give support, answer questions, join in discussions, read assignments and give feedback on marking. I also accompanied teachers and students to attend clinical placements and updated some old lectures.
As I was not directly responsible for classes each week, I had more flexibility to travel some parts of Bangladesh whilst there.”
What/where is your current position/role (i.e. are you a practicing nurse, writing/teaching full time?)?
I am an Australian registered nurse and have now been living and working in Canada for 3 years. I graduated in 2004 and have predominantly worked in Emergency in that time frame. I am currently registered in BC and working in Emergency.
Can you share your overall impressions of Bangladesh and your experiences with the Project?
“I had a truly great experience in Bangladesh, I can’t believe the availability of so many different foods! I’m very happy I came across the Project and was able to experience it. I am also happy I came across it in the stage that it was at: during the transition of the graduates into lecturers, rather than as a teacher myself. I found the role interesting, challenging, stimulating and worthwhile, although I had a few challenges along the way! All of the teachers said I made a difference, but a mentee faculty member probably gave me the greatest insight into this when he said something along the lines of, “You may not realize the difference you have made, but we know.” It was also interesting to hear the students talk at the end about things they had learned from having me there – a few off the cuff remarks I made seemed to have made an impact! I have encouraged them all to keep in contact and they are aware I’m happy to help over email when and if they need it.”
Thank you for sharing your insight during a pivotal time during the Project’s development, Roslyn, and it is without doubt that your assistance and guidance has helped strengthen the foundation and shaped the growth of the nursing program at IUBAT. We’re sure the students and faculty alike can wholeheartedly agree that your influence has been positive and beneficial for the future direction of the Bangladesh Health Project!