Audrey Petersen made the decision to study Bangla after doing a public health research project on the incorporation of zinc in the treatment of diarrheal diseases for her nursing program at George Mason University. The research was primarily being studied by an organization headquartered in Bangladesh, which sparked her interest in the public health system and nursing in Bangladesh. She knew that learning the language would benefit her career as a nurse.
Audrey participated in the CLS Program in Bangladesh in both 2011 and 2012, and received Alumni Development Funds for a Bangla language tutor to keep up her language skills between summer programs. Her goal was to develop her language skills to be able to contribute as a professional nurse in Bangladesh.
“I find that now I am especially careful to ensure my patients have access to translators. While all providers are concerned patients can understand instructions, I feel personally connected to the issue because of my experiences with the CLS Program in Bangladesh.”
She returned to Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2014 to teach nursing students at the International University of Business Agriculture and Technology in partnership with the Bangladesh Health Project. Her language skills allowed her to connect to her students to support them in their learning. She also had the opportunity in 2014 to travel to Liberia as an Ebola response nurse with Partners in Health (PIH).
Audrey in Liberia as an Ebola response nurse with Partners in Health (PIH).
“It was amazing to take my career internationally a second time. My previous experiences with the CLS Program and then later working in resource-limited environments in Bangladesh made me more qualified for the position with PIH.”
In addition to working as a nurse with a specialty in trauma, Audrey is also a member of the Army National Guard. She is currently in the language training program at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC). Just like in the CLS Program, she must take an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) at the end of her course in order to ensure she is able to effectively use the language for her work.
“The challenging learning environment on the CLS Program prepared me for the challenges I face as a servicemember. Flexibility and dedication are essential qualities needed in order to be successful. This combination of skills has proven to be useful in nursing and the military which both have inherently unpredictable environments. The CLS Program has motivated me to give back to my country as I feel I can see the effects of policy decisions on programs that have had a direct impact on my life.”
Audrey’s views are her own and do not represent those of the United States Army.
June 22, 2020