The hot, thick, air was such a familiar feeling. It might have been two years since the last visit, but like clock work my skin felt sticky and the tips of my hair started to curl. I quickly recognized the reflection of that white, American nurse, with her pack on and army green linen pants looking back at me through the airport arrival glass wall. No longer surrounded by the comforts of her own language or culture she ironically looks right at home, moments away from long hours teaching nurses, observing clinical care, meeting with hospital leadership, learning new practices, implementing quality improvement projects, and loving every minute of it.
I quickly raced to the customs desk. Like a professional Cambodian visitor, I waited for my passport to be held up and some unrecognizable version of my name yelled. I breezed through the customs process, found my bag, and jumped into the car with my Cambodian colleague, Moniroth Sopheak. In addition to my visit, Moniroth was returning after a month of visiting Seattle Washington for an INP nurse exchange. Squeezed between his Mom, Dad, Sister, and brother-in-law, we enjoyed what appeared to be a game of charades with full body language, some Khmer, some English, and a lot of laughs.
After several stops to pick up lunch, fruit, more fruit, meet family members, and drop off family members, we arrived at his home for a welcoming lunch. Holding my coconut with sleep deprived eyes, I witnessed the beautiful homecoming of a son to his mother and father; the exciting chatter as sisters moving around the boiling pots of hole chickens, rice, and soups, preparing a meal with love.
There is something that only this kind of work can bring a person. When common language and culture can not be shared, these interactions offers an opportunity to unearth a deeper human connection. As nurses we are blessed and cursed to carry these human moments with us, our patient's stories. But it is also this common thread that bonds nurses closer together, no matter the country. This is my story. These are my moments. Each day filled with joys, hopes, sadness, discouragement, frustrations, pride, honor, and above all, human connection. This world would be a better place if we all opened ourselves to such a journey.