AU Nursing Students Immersed In the Culture at Navajo Reservation

AU Nursing Students Immersed In the Culture at Navajo Reservation

9/4/13 ASHLAND, Ohio – This past summer, five Ashland University nursing students and two faculty members traveled to Window Rock, Arizona, where they participated in the Navajo Reservation Cultural Immersion course.

While at the Fort Defiance Indian Hospital, students and faculty learned how the hospital integrates traditional Navajo healing practices into western medicine. Students had the opportunity to see traditional Navajo Hogans and sweat lodges used in patient care.

The students and faculty were able to join Aaron Sams, a traditional healer employed by the hospital, for two blessing ceremonies. One was in a Hogan and the other in a teepee. Students saw both Christian and traditional Navajo beliefs integrated in the blessings; herbs, feathers, a bone whistle, singing and praying were part of the ceremonies.

Among their adventures, the students had the opportunity to meet Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, Jill, as she was traveling to Navajo Technical College to give the commencement address.

During the week, AU nursing students hosted a cookout at the Rio Puerco Youth Center for the children. Students had a good time playing games with the Navajo children. After last year’s cultural immersion trip, the AU Student Nurse Association (SNA) began a “Shoebox Christmas” program. Students and faculty purchased small toys, educational supplies, mittens, hats, gloves, and other items for the children on the reservation. The College of Nursing sent 50 decorated shoeboxes full of small gifts to the Rio Puerco Community Center last year.

Along with all the amazing learning and philanthropy experiences, students also enjoyed hiking Canyon De Chelly, Window Rock, and exploring the White House Ruins.   

The Navajo Cultural Immersion course, HS 380, is offered every spring semester. During pre-immersion coursework, students study the Navajo culture and traditional healing practices. At the course conclusion, students spend a week on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona in May. For more information about this exciting opportunity, contact Sharon See or Nancy Thorne .

The information meetings for the next Navajo Cultural Immersion Course is set for Sept. 3 and Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. in CONHS room 143. 

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###