Students at Northern Kentucky University may have noticed more white being worn in the Math Education Psychology building on Thursday.
The College of Health Professions launched its first campus Whiteout. The event was to raise awareness for widows in India. Indian widows are shunned from society seen as a financial burden and generally forced to wear white. To show support for the widows students wore white clothing. Money was raised to go toward V. Mohini Giri shelter in India.
The money will be sent to the shelter, with supplies, and 15 student volunteers from the Nursing and Social Work programs. The fifteen students will leave on Dec. 27 and be gone for two weeks.
Professor Adele Dean of the nursing program said, the idea for the trip came about two years ago when Giri, who was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her humanitarian work with women, came to NKU as a keynote speaker during international week.
Dean was invited to have lunch with Giri, who invited nursing students to come to her shelter in India as a study abroad program. Dean contacted professor Karen Tapp to invite social work students to go on the trip as well.
Tapp said, “We’re going to be interacting with the women in the shelter, we’ll be talking to them and hearing their stories what’s happened to them. I think in the backdrop it is important to remember that widows in India are shunned. They often don’t have money, they lose their homes, they may lose contact with their children. So there is a lot of losses involved with being a widow more so than being the husband.”
Dean said, “What our hopes are for students in addition to what we’ll actually be doing while we’re there for the cause. Is that students who travel abroad and experience other cultures and have to interact with people from other cultures and if those cultures are not as fortunate as ours, they develop an empathy they wouldn’t have otherwise, and a world perspective they wouldn’t have otherwise.
She said, “Even if they travel to India and interact with Indians from that culture then when they are working as nurses and they are working on patients from any other culture, I think it awakens and calls on something that developed in them, some form of empathy that developed in them while they were in that other culture.”
“I’m afraid of being overwhelmed by it,” Lia Ferrell, a nursing student going on the trip said.
Ferrell said the most difficult part in preparing for the trip is the amount of vaccines needed to stay healthy.
Some of the vaccines the students going on the trip should have are Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, and they are to take a Malaria pill.
Deborah Fuller went on a study abroad trip two summers ago to Mexico.
“After that experience I wanted more, more such a wonderful experience,” Fuller said. “All of the students are excited to help and learn, as many of them said they feel this trip will probably change them.”
The bake sale for the whiteout reached its goal of $500 and Dean and Tapp hope to get that amount double by getting other programs to match the amount.
Gabriella Maxedon, social work coordinator who organized the whiteout, said they only had a week to plan for this year. Next year they hope to raise more by starting earlier.