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Final Blog: The Return – Nicole Cummings

A series of posts from the 2009 trip. Originally published at

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 | Posted by Nicole Cummings

I have been back now for more than three days, and still the thought of my time in Nunavut brings tears to my eyes. I have been putting off this final blog for as long as I could, because once it is written, it means my trip is truly over.

As I look back on our trip to the North, I realize that I will forever remember the trip as one of the best experiences of my life. It will go right up there with my wedding day and the birth of a child—but since neither of those two things has happened yet, it will sit at first place for a while.

I have taken time to thank all of the individuals up north who made this trip run so smoothly, but I have not had a chance to thank the people in the trenches with me up north. The team of people chosen for the Chinook project worked amazingly well together, and I miss them terribly already. We spent nearly 20 hours a day together, and somehow managed to grow closer as friends and not annoyed as co-workers.

Dr. Anne Marie Carey
Dr. Peter Foley

The two veterinarians on this trip were the best teachers anyone could ask for. In a place far from home and the safety of our textbooks, they taught us how to think on our feet and to really be veterinarians. Dr. Foley, you were there whenever we needed you, helping with procedures, giving medical advice, and offering support. You have an incredible gift when talking to clients and sharing your vast knowledge with them in a way they can understand. You were always calm, helped to keep us calm, and, thus, kept things running smoothly. Thank you.

Dr. Carey (who took on the role of our surgery instructor), you are one amazing teacher. Needless to say, I was not surprised in the least by your recent Merial teaching award. I think the whole group of students had a certain anxiety about surgery prior to the trip (read my blog about my first morning with the Project and my constant nausea!), but your confidence while in surgery was so profound, that you inevitably help to increase your students’ confidence. In the north, you always had a keen sense of when to hold the hand of one of the students, and when we needed the room to go it alone. Every surgery tip you taught us will be engrained in my memory, and I already find myself becoming a better surgeon because of you. Thank you.

Andrea Chisholm was the technician on the trip, and our go to person. Thank you for putting up with our many failed catheter placements and confused looks the first few days. You never once lost your patience, and we all noticed and were grateful. When we needed something, you had already gotten it for us. You were always 10 steps ahead, which helped us to stay on track; without you, we would have wandered. Thank you.

To the other students with me, do not forget this experience. We worked our tails off, and never lost patience with each other. We gave credit where credit was due, and we shared the work equally. Yes, we may have bickered like brothers and sisters at times, but at the end of the day, I love you all. I am so happy I got to experience this trip with you guys.

To everyone who has been reading this blog, thank you. I really wanted to put into words the experience, but I found it much harder than anticipated. Words can never accurately describe the emotional, educational, and spiritual experience of a new culture. I just hope I could give you a taste of it with this blog. I will never forget this trip, and if I close my eyes hard enough I can put us all back there…the sun shining, out on the land, sitting on a sled pulled by a snowmobile.

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