Faculty/Staff Resources Student Resources
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
Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn YouTube
People
People

Student Blog
Global Initiatives Team

Celebrating Lunar New Year 2022! >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity International

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

By Yiyang (Sunny) Fang, PhD student, OTD alumni, Bachelor’s to Master’s alumni

Editors Alison Chang and Vanessa ElShamy
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

Having lived in the United States for 6 consecutive years since graduating from undergraduate school, celebrating the Lunar New Year in Los Angeles has been a big part of my life! Despite ongoing concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, I was able to safely gather with my partner and several other friends at home to celebrate the holiday. We went to the local Chinese grocery store, 99 Ranch, and enjoyed home-made HOT POT! Hot pot is one of the most popular meals to have on New Year’s Eve because family members and friends get to gather around the circular boiling pot, cook, and share food as a group. Some of my favorite ingredients to cook in a hot pot include beef and lamb slices, meatballs, fish cakes, spam, rice cakes, potatoes, and a variety of leafy green vegetables. While gathering around the hot pot, we also watched the Chinese New Year Gala (春晚, pronounced as “Chun Wan” in Chinese), a special variety show for New Year’s Eve featuring singing, dancing, magic shows, and drama performances. For many Chinese families, watching the New Year Gala at the New Year’s Eve has become a beloved ritual.

Celebrating Lunar New Year 2022 with home-made hot pot and Chinese New Year’s Gala.

Celebrating Lunar New Year 2022 with home-made hot pot and Chinese New Year’s Gala.

To welcome the year of the Tiger, which is the 3rd of the 12 Chinese Zodiac animals (生肖 , pronounced as “Sheng Xiao”), I added decorations to both the front and back of the doors throughout my apartment. The mandarin orange plushies that I hang at the front of my door symbolize luck and fortune. The Spring Couplets on the back of my door mean “good luck everyday” and “happy everyday.” Having these decorations at home has been a tradition for not only myself, but also my family back in China. The red ornaments create a warm and festive vibe for the important holiday and hold our most genuine wish: that the new year will be a good and prosperous one. I am grateful that I was able to celebrate the Lunar New Year with my friends here in LA in a very meaningful way. I hope that the year of 2022 will bring everyone more happiness, blessings, and good health!!!

Lunar New Year decorations on the backside of the door — spring festival couplets.

Lunar New Year decorations on the backside of the door — spring festival couplets.

Lunar New Year decorations at the front of the door — mandarin orange plushies.

Lunar New Year decorations at the front of the door – mandarin orange plushies.

Taking a leap of faith: transitioning from SOTI participant to a full-time OTD student >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity Getting Involved International

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

By Serg Lam, Doctoral Candidate, SOTI alumni (2019)

Editors Michelle Plevack and Abraham Ramirez
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

Visit to Keck Medicine of USC’s hand therapy clinic with SOTI.

I always feel privileged to participate in my patients’ recovery journey. Having the opportunity to empower and restore patients back to their daily routine is definitely a joyful experience. Since I am an integral part of my patients’ recovery journey, I strive to learn different intervention strategies, and this is how my SOTI (USC’s Summer Occupational Therapy Immersion) story began.

During the SOTI program, my classmates and I visited many advanced occupational therapy practices. Out of these, ocean therapy was definitely a highlight for me. Ocean therapy utilizes surfing as a meaningful occupation to help individuals with PTSD and/or depression to overcome barriers and enhance their confidence. For example, maintaining good posture in big waves and swimming in the current provides an adverse scenario for individuals to safely “fight for their lives,” and enables them to develop healthy coping skills in adverse situations. The life skills they developed in therapy sessions could eventually transfer into their daily lives and allow them to manage challenges and stressors in real life. Upon reflection, Ocean therapy gave me the insight to develop my career goals. Besides being an occupational therapist in a psychiatric setting, I am also a Muay Thai coach/fighter. It has always been my dream to promote health and wellness for younger adults utilizing the sport I am fond of. Through training and coaching, I have seen positive transformations in many athletes. Overcoming barriers in training not only improves physical conditions in athletes, but it also empowers them to promote psychological resilience and to adapt to difficult situations in adulthood.

Hong Kong Muay Thai Championship 2021 at Southorn Stadium, Wan Chai.

Besides enriching therapists with advanced clinical knowledge in various settings, SOTI also promotes friendship and brings people with different nationalities together. Though we are therapists from other countries, with diverse backgrounds and age ranges, there was never a dull moment in class. My roommates Naoya and Andy have always supported me in the program. Trust and intimacy were formed as classmates had given me the nickname “Uncle Serg”, as I had been assigned a senior leader in class. The bond of friendship grew as we studied and explored beautiful California together.

SOTI class visit to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

“Uncle Serg” had a wonderful time in the SOTI program, and I realized it was never too late to start chasing my dreams. Before starting my OTD program, I worked in both in-patient and community psychiatric settings in Hong Kong. OT input is crucial in a psychiatric patient’s journey. Yet, I feel like there are limitations in my practice, and patients’ needs are not always met in the psychiatric unit, especially individuals with behavioral issues and sensory issues. So, I have decided to take a leap of faith and pursue further education for the above reasons. I have just started my OTD in Spring 2022 and am doing my residency in the Insp!re (Innovations in Neurodevelopmental Sensory Processing Research) lab for Dr. Baranek. Time to fight on!

Beach day with my SOTI buddies in sunny California.

Friendtorship Circles 2021-2022 >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity Getting Involved

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

By Brendan La Scala, OTR, Global Initiatives Doctoral Candidate

Editors Alison Chang and Vanessa ElShamy
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

Danny Park, OTD, OTR/L (pictured on the right) and Brendan LaScala, OTD student (pictured on the left) at the ice cream social/Friendtorship mixer in November 2021

This semester, Global Initiatives hosted our first in-person Friendtorship (friendship + mentorship) Circles event for the USC Chan community. Friendtorship Circles were intentionally created with students in our Post-Professional Master’s, Entry-Level Master’s (first and second years), OTD, PhD, Bachelor’s to Master’s, and Bachelor’s to Doctorate programs. Meetings were held one time per month, with each event including large and small group discussions and activities for students to get to know each other.

The Friendtorship Circles were started in the summer of 2020 as a product of the Chan Community Commission, a student initiative that aims to help cultivate connections between incoming Master’s students. Second-year Professional Master’s students formed this commission, recognizing the importance of social connection, having received a significant portion of their education experience remotely. At the end of the summer, Global Initiatives decided to add the Friendtorship Circles to their programming with a focus on the international student population.

First virtual Friendtorship Event.

Students took the time out of their busy schedules to share moments with other students, some whom they had never met before; this represents the nature of the occupational therapy community. Our very own Josh Digao (MA-1) stated that, “Friendtorship was a way for me to connect with people I would have never met otherwise and I am grateful that Global Initiatives provided this amazing opportunity to us.” The Friendtorship Circles served our community by providing an avenue for international students to get to know local students from other cohorts in the Chan Division. Below are some pictures from our time together during the Fall semester. I am personally excited to continue this effort as a member of the Friendtorship planning committee and plan to help expand the program this Spring semester!

My Experience with the Pen Pal Program >

by Global Initiatives Team

International What are OS/OT?

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

By Abraham Ramirez, Entry-Level Professional Master’s student

Editors Alison Chang and Vanessa ElShamy
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

Abraham Ramirez

Abraham Ramirez

One of the meaningful projects that I’ve been involved in within Global Initiatives is the Pen Pal Program. I was lucky enough to be connected to two students in Colombia who were both in the same year at the Escuela Colombiana de Rehabilitacion. This was a great opportunity to learn about occupational therapy and its scope of practice in Colombia. My pen pals and I communicated in Spanish because it’s the most widely spoken language there.

What is the most memorable letter that you’ve received from your pen pal?

Even though the program has the word “pen” in the title, my pen pals and I decided to communicate through Instagram messenger via group chat, as well as Zoom when we found the time. Our group chat conversations revolved mostly around the OT profession in our respective countries. However, the most meaningful experience was communicating over Zoom. We talked a lot about differences in culture between Mexicans and Colombians, since I’m culturally Mexican. We also discussed nuances in Spanish and how the language has evolved in Colombia and Mexico. It was interesting to find the beauty in the uniqueness of our cultures, as some may make assumptions that countries in Latin America are all similar.

What is the best thing you have learned from your pen pal?

I learned about how OT education is different in Colombia compared to in the U.S. In Colombia, you currently only need a bachelor’s degree to practice as an OT. Additionally, from the way they explained their curriculum, it seemed like there’s an emphasis on hands-on approaches. I also like that they place emphasis on OT in the “sector laboral,” or “the workplace.” For example, one of my pen pals had a rotation at an airport where she completed ergonomic assessments for the personnel.

What message would you send to your pen pal right now if you had only 2-3 sentences to say it?

If I were to send a message to my pen pals right now, I would honestly just say that I appreciate their openness to friendship, even though there are hundreds of miles between us. It’s great to know that there’s people across the world that enjoy speaking with you.

My Experience in Creating the World OT Day Video for the USC Chan Division >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity International Videos What are OS/OT?

Twitter Facebook LinkedIn email

By Kashvi Shah, Post-Professional Master’s student

Editors Michelle Plevack and Abraham Ramirez
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

“Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” — Brené Brown.

At USC Chan, we have a diverse global community with a significant percentage of international students. Most of them struggle to find their sense of belonging in this new environment and find it challenging to develop resilience. However, “true belonging does not require you to change who you are: it requires you to be who you are” (Brené Brown).

Hence, on this World OT Day, I thought it would be a great idea to involve our student community in celebrating ourselves and our profession. I approached Dr. Daniel Park at the Global Initiatives office with the idea of creating a short video film of our students on the theme by WFOT (World Federation of Occupational Therapists): Belong, Be You. I am sure you began to wonder what these words mean to you. And so did I.

Kashvi in the process of World OT Day video editing

Kashvi in the process of World OT Day video editing

Earlier, I was excited about this project as I found an opportunity to contribute to this with my interest in videography and editing. However, soon after my excitement turned into anxiety. The technical aspects of videography then seemed less challenging than the conceptualization of this video, which was more entangled than expected.

Fortunately, I had the assistance of Marvyn Ngo, our MA-1 Student Ambassador at USC Chan, who always corroborated my ideas and furthermore, helped in reaching out to students for participation in the video.

The most exciting and enthralling part of this process began next, as it was finally time to put together what the participants had shared. Ann Beattie once said “People forget years and remember moments.” That is exactly what the video clips from our participants’ cherished moments were. They could feel their belonging in celebrating who they really are! I enjoy dancing as a meaningful occupation wholeheartedly and being myself is my true belonging. I was glad to see how all our participants found meaning in different activities.

For me this experience was so enriching. From facing the challenges of generating ideas to the support in executing them, and from the excitement of creation to the anxiety of outcome, it was indeed a whirlwind. For this opportunity, I am grateful to those at the Chan Division who added meaning to my belonging at USC.

Kashvi enjoying dance, Being herself!

Kashvi enjoying dance, Being herself!

References

Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York, NY: Avery.

Brown, B. (2017). Braving the wilderness: The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone. New York, NY: Random House.

Beattie, A. (2002). Where you’ll find me and other stories. New York, NY: Scribner.

Page 2 of 4 |  < 1 2 3 4 >