Cortland Hill goes to Bangladesh

This past Wintermester as a Nevada Senior, I took a three-week trip to Bangladesh with my CHS 494 class, Field Studies in Public Health. The class teaches students the importance of culture, education, and inclusion through hands-on experience. In other words, we got the chance to test tube wells for arsenic contamination and create clean drinking water!

This was the town we explored during our breaks from testing the water.

This was the town we explored during our breaks from testing the water.

The trip was a huge culture shock for me from my first step off of the plane. For one thing there was no kind of variety like in America. Everyone there looked the same. Bangladesh is a Muslim country with the highest population density in the world. And most of all, it has a year-round tropic-jungle climate! The natives in Bangladesh were extremely hospitable to me and my classmates. Once they found out our reason for going to Bangladesh they became curious and began to befriend us. We could see how excited they were to receive the help we were offering.

This was one of the nights we hung out with the Bengali children. They were so happy.

This was one of the nights we hung out with the Bengali children. They were so happy.

While testing the wells the class would also check villagers for Melanosis and Keratosis, which are early detections of skin cancer. The results for most people were negative, but quite a few elderly people suffered from the disorders. One of them may have already had skin cancer.  For the most part, doing the work to get the results went great for my class, but it was overwhelming to see people suffering and struggling physically all because of tainted water.

In this photo you see one of my classmates, Sierra Estrada, our professor, and myself at the testing site where we checked villagers for skin cancer.

In this photo you see my classmates, Sierra Estrada and Kelli Ducker, and myself at the testing site where we checked villagers for skin cancer.

Throughout the trip, after the long days of working in the field surveying villagers and testing wells, I played new games and saw the best sights Bangladesh had to offer! I ran into numerous amounts of Bengali people and their children. There was one family in particular, which had a 6 year old girl with one dark brown eye and one ocean blue eye; it was absolutely spectacular. My classmates and I were able to attend several Muslim festivals in which the Bengalis promote their Islamic culture amongst themselves and have a great time.

Here is the 6-year-old girl who has one blue eye and one brown one. Her dad had the same eyes.

Here is the 6-year-old girl who has one blue eye and one brown one. Her dad had the same eyes.

The class was always equipped with at least 2 translators everywhere we went in order to keep us safe and sound. There were several times when the natives went overboard as far as the class’ privacy, and if it was not for the translators, being able to protect us and get us out of the sticky situation, we may have been in a lot of trouble.

Overall, I had a blast in Bangladesh and was more than grateful that I could go clear across the world to help with such a good cause! I came back to America with a new state of mind. I used to take things for granted, little, as well as big. America may not be perfect, but in some respects it’s a great country, and our government at least attempts to take care of us unlike Bangladesh whose government is extremely corrupt and deceptive towards their own people. Bangladesh is a beautiful place with a lot of potential. I will forever be thankful I had the opportunity to be selfless and help another country!

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