NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When Belmont women's soccer alumna Heather Ferrari thinks of her recent service experience in Nepal, only one word comes to mind: grateful.
Ferrari, a recent BU nursing graduate who played defense for the Bruins soccer team from 2014-17, served as a volunteer nurse at medical centers in the Chitwan district of Nepal last fall. After returning to the United States in November, she gave a presentation back at Belmont earlier this month on her experience as part of the Lumos Award program that helped send her abroad.
The Lumos Award is given annually by Belmont University to help current students and recent graduates embark on a self-designed international working adventure. Recipients explore, engage and immerse themselves in local communities in order to deepen their understanding of an issue, project or idea that impassions them.
For Ferrari, her passion lay in community medicine. Gaining medical experience while living within a new and vastly different culture was a logically important part of Ferrari's journey, she said.
"Adjusting care based on cultural difference and language barriers is not always easy," began the Duluth, Ga., native. "But as I am in the process of becoming a nurse, it is important for me to understand their requests and still provide the best care possible with the best intentions for my patients in mind."
But why Nepal? Well, that was more about feeling.
"Honestly the only logical answer I have is God placed this country and these people on my heart," she said.
Ferrari arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal in early August and spent the ensuing 14 weeks rotating through various medical units as a volunteer nurse. She stayed with a host family, explored the country on her weekends and found a new perspective on medical care.
While in Nepal, Ferrari saw many things that her studies at Belmont trained her for. But serving a largely impoverished population with patients frequently suffering from malnutrition, there were many things no amount of schooling could have prepared her for.
Her time in Asia was both trying and triumphant though, Ferrari said.
"It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, but so rewarding," she said. "It was rewarding in the friendships, in the laughs and in the smiles of everyday life. In trying new foods, experiencing a new culture and being submerged in a new religion. It was challenging, but I learned so much about life, medicine and myself.
"I had to rely on the Lord more than ever to give me strength, compassion, love and energy to make it through the tough days, and joy and peace to make it through the easier days."
To read more about Ferrari's journey to Nepal and to see more photos, visit her Lumos Award travel blog.
For more information on the Lumos Award, visit www.belmont.edu/lumos.