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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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About Us
About Us

USC Chan Global Initiatives

Current Global Initiatives Projects

Global “Brown Bag” Speaker Series

The Global Initiatives Brown Bag Speaker Series aims to provide the Chan community with informal educational opportunities regarding relevant global topics. Students are invited to learn from occupational scientists and occupational therapists from around the world to further broaden their understanding of how occupation and occupational therapy is experienced outside the United States.

Recent Brown Bag presentations include:

Global Initiatives Conversation: Therapists Beyond Borders Show description

Perspectives on Advocacy: Standing Up for Mothers and Children in the US and the Philippines
by Dr. Apple Sepulveda OTD, OTR/L, BCP, SCFES

Sex, Love and OT in India
by Prutha Satpute and Dr. Sakshi Tickoo

Occupational Therapy and Culture in Venezuela/Colombia and South Korea
by Valentina Vera and Catherine Shin

Global Initiatives Seminars

The seminars are organized to provide practical information that is focused on relevant occupational therapy topics identified by our current and past international students. Our previous topics and panels have included:

Navigating the NBCOT exam
with the Director of Credentialing Services at NBCOT

Thriving After Graduation: Tips for Succeeding in the First Year of Practice as an International Alumni
(panel featuring recent international alumni and local occupational therapy employers)

“Global Perspectives” Student Connection

Global Perspectives aims to establish a forum for USC students and OT students from universities around the world to discuss important global issues impacting all of our lives. By utilizing videoconferencing technologies, students engage in dialogue and learn from each other about culture, health and wellness, occupational therapy, and occupational science on a global scale. Previous Global Perspectives partners include:

Kaohsiung Medical University (Taiwan):
Exploring Occupation, Health, and Wellness in Taiwan and the United States

La Trobe University (Australia):
Innovative Responses to COVID-19: Discussion between USC Chan and La Trobe University

Global Corner Conversation Groups

The Global Corner is an informal lunchtime conversation group intended to foster friendship and sharing of perspectives between our Division’s international students and local American students. Conversations loosely center around themes (e.g., experiences growing up in the United States and in other countries) but conversation groups are free to take the conversation in any direction they like.

Friendtorship Circles

The Global Initiatives Friendtorship Circle program aims to cultivate a supportive and diverse community within the Chan Division through “friendtorship” (friendship + mentorship). The program facilitates mentorship circles of 4-6 students across all academic programs in the Chan Division (Bachelor’s-to-Master’s, Post Professional Master’s, Professional Master’s, OTD, and PhD programs). Participants attend monthly meetings hosted by Global Initiatives in which they connect and share their personal experiences, build lasting relationships, and provide support to one another throughout their journeys to become occupational therapists.

International “Pen Pal” Letter Writing Exchange

The ​International Pen Pal program is a unique opportunity to connect with occupational therapy students from different regions around the world.​ The program aims to provide students with a new way to engage in cultural exchange, practice language skills, and build friendships all while expanding their professional networks. Once students are matched, they choose the form of communication they wish to engage in: whether it’s handwritten letters, email, text, video call, or any other creative way. Current university partners in the Pen Pal program include:

Bethlehem University (Bethlehem, Palestine)
Escuela Colombiana de Rehabilitación (​Bogotá, Colombia)
Griffith University (Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia)
National Cheng Kung University (Tainan, Taiwan)
University of Ghana (Accra, Ghana)
Asia University (Taichung, Taiwan)

Shared Plates Community Dinner

Shared Plates is an annual dinner jointly hosted by Global Initiatives and the USC Occupational Therapy and Science Council to foster community and celebrate our cultural diversity while enjoying delicious global cuisine. Students teach one another how to prepare personally meaningful dishes such as curry, lumpia, and ssambap. Once the meals are cooked, attendees gather and enjoy a potluck style meal together.

In 2020, Shared Plates was hosted virtually, as ​a meal framed around “finding the global in your local community.” Participants were invited to cook their own dinner or support diverse businesses in their local community by ordering dinner (i.e., takeout). Whether virtual or in-person, this event is a special opportunity to celebrate the rich cultural diversity within the Chan community and share fellowship with one another!


Throughout the academic year, Global Initiatives hosts a variety of celebrations to ​recognize meaningful holidays and student milestones, and to build community and connection.​ These events enable students to socialize, form relationships, and learn more about each other’s cultures. Past celebrations we have held include World Occupational Therapy Day, American Thanksgiving celebration, Holi, and Lunar New Year.