I just attended my first AOTA Annual Conference & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee and it was an amazing experience! For those of you that do not know, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is our national professional association that represents the interests and concerns of occupational therapy practitioners and students of occupational therapy and to improve the quality of occupational therapy services. A conference and expo is held at different locations around the U.S. each year.This year it was held in Nashville, Tennessee and it was also the largest conference ever with over 9,000 attendees! I have to say, AOTA’s annual conference is the most exciting and dynamic gathering for occupational therapy professionals each year and it is so inspiring to be around so many occupational therapy practitioners, students and leaders! In addition, I was fortunate enough to be selected to present a poster with a couple of my colleagues on a project we worked on last fall semester!
AOTA’s itinerary is filled with an inspiring Presidential and keynote addresses, over 900 educational sessions and an Expo filled with the latest products and opportunities! For more information on our national association check out the AOTA website.
Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing great! OT Month is in full effect over here at the division, and best believe you can catch me walking down the hallway sporting one of our signature OT Month pins! In addition, I just got back from an awesome experience at AOTA, which I will be writing about more later in a future upcoming blog. Today’s blog is about the second part of my leadership project, in which I had the opportunity to carry out a philanthropic project I had curated in preparation for the leadership capstone experience, which I named PhilaPinas. In the beginning stages of preparing for this project, my initial goal was to raise $250 of funds to be utilized in purchasing slippers to be distributed to children walking barefoot in the rural provinces. However, through the amazing generosity of my family, friends, and classmates, we were able to collectively raise $1700 dollars of funds. Given this monumental donation, this evolved and expanded the project to reach several different sites in which we could extend our positive impact. In addition, I had no idea just how far this money would take us, as the dollar goes such a long way in the Philippines. Just to give you some perspective, I was able to purchase 100 slippers for only $33! Thus, you can only imagine how far $1700 dollars of raised funds would take us. In each site, we had the opportunity to meet the coordinators of these respective sites, meet the people who found refuge in these safe-havens, and assess what these places needed the most in terms of donated supplies. The donations consisted of various necessities and supplies, including baby soap, baby shampoo, milk, crackers, detergent, clothes, slippers, toothpaste, and much more!
The first site we had the pleasure of visiting was the Hospicio de San Jose Orphanage and Elderly home. This home provides refuge for all types of individuals, including pregnant mothers who are homeless, children with special needs, women who have been domestically or sexually abused, orphaned children, and homeless elderly. Their motto is “welcoming all people, from womb to the tomb.” Over 200 people call Hospicio de San Jose home, who have opened their doors to help underserved communities dating all the way back to 1810. To my pleasant surprise, Hospicio de San Jose even had an occupational therapy department! I had the opportunity to meet with their team members, and hear about their inspiring mission of helping all people who enter Hospicio De San Jose’s doors.
The second place we visited was St. Rita’s orphanage and school, which is the elementary school my Mom once attended! St. Rita’s provides care to orphans and children who have special needs. The children at this site had a real enduring nature about them, and were an absolute joy to be around.
Next on our list was Philippines General Oncology Ward. I had the opportunity to hang out with these resilient kids, a lot of whom spent their time doing art while receiving chemotherapy. Thus, to support them in this occupation, we provided various art supplies in addition to food.
Following this visit, we had an opportunity to check out Bahay Ni Maria, a home for grandmothers who have been abandoned. These women had a lot of wisdom to share with me about life, resiliency through struggle, and God’s providence. I learned a ton from them and the light that they shared.
Next, we visited the College of Perpetual Help, where my Aunt is the dean at the college of health sciences (which includes an occupational therapy department!) She mentioned to me that they do an outreach program at National Belibid Prison, in which they send teachers to educate the inmates. We decided to visit and donate at National Belibid Prison, and learned more about their program. They incorporate a true “rehabilitation through education model” and they are only 1 of 2 schools in the world that offer an opportunity for their well-behaved inmates to attain a bachelor’s degree in Entrepreneurship while still serving their sentence. My aunt was telling me about what the graduates of the program have gone on to do, and how the program has decreased recidivism rates. The model that I saw here was truly inspiring, and I believe their rehabilitation through education model serves as a successful platform that other institutions can take after.
In our last couple of days, we had an opportunity to distribute slippers in the Lagunas, Pasay, and Manila rural areas. At first I was a little weary as to whether or not we would be able to distribute all these supplies, but I quickly found out just how many kids walk the streets barefoot. The gratitude expressed was truly heart felt, and the smiles on their faces were priceless. Our last stop was at San Roque Parish, a church that does outreach to a community in which 70 families had lost their homes to a fire. The sisters at this church emphasized just how far our donations would go in helping these families.
When I look back at the leadership capstone experience as a whole, all I can say is that it was truly a life changing experience that helped me grow in many ways. I’ve never felt more connected to my culture and roots, and to be able to give back at this capacity was truly a dream come true. I would like to thank my family, friends, and classmates for their generosity, and letting me be an agent of sharing their positive impact. Yes, there’s no doubt that there’s still a lot of work in the Philippines to be done; there is corruption, war, and a tremendous amount of people living in poverty. With that said, the most refreshing aspect of this experience was to witness the generosity, gratitude, and resilient nature of the Filipino people, despite the daily struggles they face. This is definitely not the last time I will be carrying out the PhilaPinas project, but I have to give big props to all the people who made this possible, and to our program for affording me the opportunity to carry out this dream
Video and pictures to come!
Until next time,
Recently, I had the opportunity to present at the Occupational Therapy Association of California Spring Symposium on time management strategies for adults with ADHD, specifically speaking to my development of an occupations-based group intervention. Not going to lie, I was a bit nervous speaking to a group of practicing occupational therapists about a program that I have worked so hard on for the last year. I was fearful for their opinion of it, their understanding of the material, and overall how the presentation would go. Even though I volunteered to present and share my work thus far, it is still a bit scary; but I’m here to tell you it went amazing! I couldn’t have asked for a better turn out or better experience for my first workshop! This really speaks to the Division’s capacity to prepare us not only as practitioners, but also has professional leaders and advocates for the field. In addition, attendees were so respectful and supportive of my ideas and my work. In which I could not have gotten to the point I am today without the support of the Division and the curriculum, and specifically Dr. Deborah Pitts who has served as my mentor for this project from the beginning. I’d like to share with you how this journey started and where we are headed in the future
Last May, I was about to begin my first Level II Fieldwork with Pacific Clinics, a community-based mental health center. My site preceptor shared with me that several of their members had a hard time managing their time and getting to appointments, these folks specifically also had a diagnosis of ADHD. I willingly took on the opportunity to see what was out there for these individuals. I then brought this to the attention of my faculty preceptor, and we began a literature review. From our searches, it came to our attention that there was limited interventions out there, specifically anything occupations-based. Therefore, we began the development of what turned into a group intervention, based in occupational perspectives, that facilitated organization and time use strategies for those with ADHD. As my fieldwork was coming to an end, Dr. Pitts suggested I continue the development and research on this intervention in my course, Occupation-Based Programs for the Community. Seeing the members success who experienced the intervention with me during my fieldwork, and acknowledging how much it resonated with them, served as motivation for me to continue on with the development. It reassured me that there was a need for this, and I needed to continue my pursuit. I spent the next 3-4 months doing lots and lots of background research on what interventions were out there, different evaluation tools, symptoms and occupational impairment for individuals with ADHD, and what solutions or data was helpful in facilitating occupational participation. By the end of the semester, I had a completely revised manual for the intervention, and boy was I excited! Then the question came again, what next? I still felt that there could be more. I could do more, I could make it better. I could use more evidence to support the intervention and process. Therefore, I enrolled in an Independent Study with Dr. Pitts, and I continued the revision of the facilitator manual and the participant manual. After another 2-3 months of work, I have finally shared my ideas with others and sought their feedback, not only at the Spring Symposium I recently spoke at, but also seeking critique from experts in the field. I anxiously await their responses and suggestions for the future with the intervention. At this point in time, I am not sure what is the next path to take for development. I know I am not ready to be done with it, I am hoping to seek publication on some level to be able to share with others. But who knows what the future will hold!
So why do I share this with you? I really want to encourage others that the sky is the limit! You can do anything you set your mind to! A year ago, I would have never thought I would be in the position I am in now, nor would I have told you I have such a passion for working with adults with ADHD. The reason I am where I am today is because of the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. The support of faculty, design of curriculum, and fieldwork experiences, have really impacted my future as a practitioner and as a leader in the field. They encourage you to push the envelope, don’t just settle for the minimum, go outside of the box and do something you didn’t think you could or even knew had it in you! Without USC OSOT, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and for that I am eternally grateful.
So I welcome you to the Trojan Family! You picked a good one to be a part of! Fight on!
First off, I apologize for the lack of blog posts from me the last couple of weeks. I have been quite the busy bee with school and life ☺. Before I go on talk about the current events going on during this time of year, I want to tell you about the amazing externship opportunity I had in Costa Rica! As mentioned in impervious posts, during our final spring semester of the Master’s program we are provided the opportunity to learn and apply aspects of leadership and advocacy within a setting/site of our choice. We create the externship opportunity for ourselves and have the flexibility to decide what would provide us the most optimal learning experience. The externship experience will vary from person to person- some students decide to stay local and others decide to travel abroad. Some of my fellow classmates and student ambassadors traveled to South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, China and Ireland. ☺
Myself, along with six other OT students were placed in a government funded daycare center in an under served community in San Jose, Costa Rica. It was unfortunate to see the center under staff and lack sufficient resources. The children there lacked the adequate educational resources they need to further develop their personal and academic selves. Nevertheless, the children were extremely sweet and excited to have us there! Our mission was to provide these children with support, interaction, compassion and care. We played games, participated in circle time, sang songs and created arts and crafts! It was heartbreaking to walk in some days, because the children really could have benefited from occupational therapy services for fine or gross motor as well as social play as Kristy (student ambassador) mentioned in her blog. Being at the daycare center was quite eye-opening, not only because of the underdeveloped, under-funded learning environment that these children were in, but the permanent smiles they shared with us despite this. It was an amazing externship experience and I would love to go back and help.
Although we were primarily in Costa Rica for our externship, we did have some time to explore and experience the Costa Rican culture. During our time, we stayed with a Costa Rican family. It was a great way to immerse ourselves in the local culture and experience the Tica (Costa Rican) way of life, practice our Spanish, indulge in traditional Tica cuisine and have a family away from home. We also got to explore the city, try zip-lining, visit the hot springs, see volcanos, hike Manual Antonio National Park, and of course, relax at the beach! Overall, I had an amazing time with a great group of friends and I feel so fortunate to have had this experience as an occupational therapy student at USC. Not only does USC’s program develop you to become and amazing OT, but also as future leader in the field! Whether you complete an international externship or not, it is what you make of the opportunity to help foster you to become the person you would like to be and live life to the fullest. With that said, there is a saying I learned in Costa Rica that I would like to continue to live by- Pura Vida. It is basically the national slogan of Costa Rica and was one of my favorite sayings there. It’s a phrase that literally means “pure life”. But in reality it’s a way of life. It’s all about taking things easy and enjoying life. I understand the hustle and bustle of the daily grind can sometimes get in the way of living life. Coming back from Costa Rica, has provided me with yet another reason to appreciate life and the meaning that my favorite occupations have for me. So, even when things get tough, take some time every day, week or month to engage in your favorite occupations.
안녕하세요! (Annyeong Haseyo! Hello!)
That is the greeting used in South Korea!
It was nearly two years since I’ve traveled internationally, and it sure felt great to use my passport again.
This trip was for our Leadership Capstone course for the Master’s in Occupational Therapy at USC; the purpose of this externship trip is to see the development of leadership and administration in areas related to OT! We had two weeks in March to complete our leadership externship. With six other fellow Trojan OTs, we traveled across the world to South Korea, thanks to the coordination of Global Initiatives at USC OT! Their Facebook page is here. We were hosted by the Department of Occupational Therapy at Yonsei University and they did a spectacular job at taking care of us. I am excited for their students to come visit the United States!
Here is a picture of our team. Check out the beautiful banner that they made for us!
Yonsei University’s mascot is an Eagle. The OT building is located in the most historical building on the Wonju campus.
Considering that my Korean vocabulary is limited to short phrases, I am grateful that our Korean OT colleagues worked hard to speak English with us. I am also incredibly grateful for our Korean-speaking classmates who have stepped up to the challenge of translating for us! This picture is of us 7 USC students with the Bachelor’s OT classes, after our presentations!
Korea’s culture is very different from Western American culture, and its impact on the Korean occupational therapy profession has been a regular theme in our conversations. We have been meeting with the OT graduate students and professors, and every single one of them is extremely passionate about pioneering occupational therapy in Korea. We got to learn about their research interests, how to translate western OT assessments so that they are relevant in an eastern cultural context, and how different policies affect practice. We also had the opportunity to visit different sites, including a community based mental health organization and a private pediatric clinic.
Here’s a picture of us with some of the Yonsei University OT Research Assistants. We met in their ADL (activities of daily living) room. One of these graduate students participated in USC OT Global Initiatives’s Summer Occupational Therapy Immersion program!
The wheelchairs include some designs by OT students! They also collaborated with engineering students to create these designs. I love the interdisciplinary collaboration.
We got to experience a lot of food and culture too!
The first full moon of the lunar new year is a huge festival! We got to experience some traditional Korean cultural activities!
There are simply too many stories and pictures to be shared! Overall, it was a wonderful visit. We all left feeling more connected with other OTs around the world—no matter what culture, our mission is the same! I think all of us are also a lot more culturally sensitive to the clients who we work with too!