March 21, 2015
Hola! I recently returned from my international externship experience in Costa Rica and let’s just say it was amazing! Before I give you all the fabulous details of my trip, I’ll give you a little bit more background on the externship itself. During the final spring semester of the Master’s program, we are given the opportunity to learn aspects of leadership and advocacy in a different setting than our typical internships, therefore creating the externship process. Students may go shadow at a private practice, a physician’s office, the CEO at a major hospital, the principal at a local school district, or many of us, choose to travel internationally! International externships vary as well; some people go to other Universities and advocate for the profession or our programs at USC, for us, we worked with underprivileged children in a daycare center. Some of my fellow classmates traveled to London, Ireland, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico, or the Philippines! The sky is the limit ☺
So back on my externship, myself, along with six other OT students were placed in a government funded daycare center in the outskirts of San Jose, Costa Rica. They have very limited staff and very limited supplies, but the children were so excited to see us and play with us! We really just provided compassion and care, and showed interest in them as individuals. The children could have really benefited from occupational therapy services for fine or gross motor as well as social play and manners. We played a lot of games with them, sang songs, created arts and crafts, and just got to know them. It was a really wonderful experience. Even though we weren’t able to make huge changes in their daily activities, I hope we sparked enough desire in them to improve their quality of life. The children were so appreciative of the time we spent with them, and I would love the chance to go back and spend even more time with them!
Even though the main reason for the trip to Costa Rica was the externship, we still had lots of time for fun! We stayed with a host family and got to experience the real, home-cooked Costa Rican cuisine every day. We got to go ziplining, see volcanoes, visit the hot springs, hike through the rainforest, and of course, spend lots of time at the gorgeous beaches! Overall it was an amazing experience, and I feel so lucky to have gotten to experience it and especially with a great group of friends! It will be one of my best memories of the master’s program!