Working closely with med­ical pro­fes­sionals in Israel during a recent Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions expe­ri­ence taught nine stu­dents from the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences crit­ical lessons about pro­viding med­ical care in a mul­ti­cul­tural society.

Anita Finkelman, a vis­iting clin­ical instructor in the School of Nursing, led the stu­dents — mostly psy­chology, phys­ical therapy or public health majors — on the Dia­logue expe­ri­ence to Be’er Sheva, the largest city in Israel’s Negev region.

Some of these stu­dents had never lived in [an over­seas] place for a month and inter­acted with the cul­ture,” Finkelman said. “Their col­lec­tive real­iza­tion that we are more alike than we are dif­ferent is some­thing that is impor­tant in med­ical care, whether you’re working in Boston or halfway across the world.”

The stu­dents had nearly unlim­ited access to more than three-​​dozen Ben-​​Gurion Uni­ver­sity fac­ulty and staff. At the university-​​affiliated Soroka Med­ical Center, a hos­pital in Be’er Sheva, stu­dents inter­acted on a daily basis with med­ical pro­fes­sionals, patients and their families.

One of the stu­dents’ most rewarding expe­ri­ences, Finkelman said, was meeting Bedouin women training as nurses in a first-​​of-​​its-​​kind pro­gram cre­ated by the Israeli gov­ern­ment. The Bedouin are a desert-​​dwelling Arab ethnic group, who, Fin­kleman said, “are even more restricted than many Muslim women.”

The gov­ern­ment of Israel believes that Bedouin women would be better care providers inside their cul­ture,” Fin­kleman said. “[Bedouin] women going on for higher edu­ca­tion are almost unheard of.”

In prepa­ra­tion for the trip, stu­dents studied public health, cul­tural and his­tor­ical issues in Israel, and were respon­sible for cre­ating pre­sen­ta­tions on their work and expe­ri­ences there.

The stu­dents were very well pre­pared for every­thing they encoun­tered,” Finkelman said. ”The Ben-​​Gurion fac­ulty was very impressed with them, too. By far, I count it as the most amazing teaching expe­ri­ence I have ever had in my many, many years as an educator.”