iCHEE Reflections

iCHEE at MLK Day Labor Center

Student Comments from Winter 2011 at the MLK Day Labor Center

"Working with iCHEE this term has been wonderful. There has been a tremendous amount of learning between students and clients, the value of which transcends the language barrier we frequently met. It seems that all parties involved brought open minds and hearts to the table, and the exchange was enhanced by it. Shared experience and knowledge made for a unique dialogue between us and the client. We learned about their lives, while they benefited from students seeking to improve our ability to serve the public.

One of the things that struck me most during these exchanges was the consistent openness of these men about their lives. Every story was unique, and every personality reflected the experiences by which these men ultimately ended up in Portland. Without exception, every client that we dealt with shared intimate details of their journey, which all too frequently involved a great deal of anxiety and stress. But with those burdens, many of these men brought their humor and were happy to engage in conversations that had little to do with health, and a lot to do with a shared human experience.

If I had to be anywhere but home on a Saturday morning this term, I’m so happy it was at iCHEE. I learned so much about these men, their lives, and hardships. In fact, I think I probably learned more from them than I was able to reciprocate. In the end, I wish I’d had more time to spend at VOZ. There is so much to take away, and future students would absolutely benefit from this experience."

Melissa Witt

The coordinator of Kateri Park Community Center writes

 "Our partnership with the OHSU nursing school and the Global Health Center has been incredible! They've held two Saturday sessions where they offer free health checks to all comers, and will do two more this month. So far, they've seen over 80 people, and the nurses do follow up with the ones that need referrals to further care. Some patients had health problems but no insurance: they learned where they could get treated at little or no cost. Some were wondering if they needed glasses: They got their eyes checked and were referred to low-cost eye clinics.


Babies were brought in with eczema and dry skin, parents came in with medicines they didn't understand. Kids got to show off how well they brush their teeth, and (my favorite!) got practice washing their hands after dipping them in a special liquid that shows up all the spots you missed under UV light. Pretty cool!  One client told me he learned more about his health condition and what resources were available to him at this event than in 2 years of going to the doctor.


In addition, the nursing students run homework club on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and are right now working on a photo collage booklet to remind kids of proper tooth brushing."

Elisabeth Gern