Let’s talk about Australia ⟩
April 4, 2017, by Kimmy
Well hello again! The blog has looked a little bare these past few weeks, as the Master’s students were away on their leadership capstone externships. A couple weekends ago, I returned from Australia, feeling joyful and jetlagged. 😊
The faculty at Griffith University were welcoming right from the airport and facilitated an amazing learning opportunity throughout our two weeks in Goldcoast.
Along with five other classmates, I toured clinical sites, attended classes, visited fieldwork placements, and led presentations. To become fully immersed in Aussie OT, we visited public and private hospitals, a children’s hospital, a nursing home, a pediatric clinic, a community-based mental health foundation, and a role-emerging site. It was enlightening to hear about OT from leaders in each of these places and share our own experiences from fieldwork in similar settings. Many of the buildings were recently renovated, so I was impressed by the colorful and modern designs!
Overall, I was pleased to realize OT is more similar than different abroad. The profession represents the same ideals of holistic, occupation-based, client-centered care in any hemisphere. However, my classmates and I noted some differences within the education and healthcare systems. In Australia, OT is a Bachelor’s degree, while a Master’s degree is required in the US. However, undergraduate education is more focused toward a career in Australia, as determined by an exit exam taken at the end of high school which plays a role in determining students’ future paths.
Now for the fun stuff! (Not that learning about OT isn’t fun. 😉)
We held koalas:
We pet kangaroos:
We walked along the coastline to see the beautiful beaches:
We were total tourists at the Sydney Opera House:
We snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef:
. . . and we became even more enthusiastic about occupational therapy! I would encourage every student to consider planning an amazing and meaningful externship. Click on the bold names to learn more about Global Initiatives and the USC Summer Occupational Therapy Immersion.
It’s More Fun in the Philippines! ⟩
March 21, 2017, by Jessica
Hey everyone! I’m back from my three-week absence and I’d love to share what I’ve been up to. As Raisa mentioned in her last post, students in their 2nd year of the Entry-Level Master’s program and the Post-Professional Master’s program plan their own two-week externship experience to engage in during the middle of the Leadership Capstone course. What’s great is that the externship happens right before spring break, so students are able to either continue on in their externship or travel for the full 3 weeks! For my externship, me and 4 other students decided to volunteer with the EN/Ability Project in the Philippines, building adaptive chairs out of cardboard for children with disabilities in a rural village of Cebu.
The EN/Ability Project is an outreach program that provides therapeutic services to underserved children with disabilities in the rural provinces of Cebu. On this volunteer trip, we led a group of volunteers and therapists in building adaptive seating for children with disabilities in Borbon. The children that were identified to benefit from the adaptive chairs have disabilities that impact their ability to participate in fundamental activities in their daily lives, such as feeding, playing, and interacting with their families. We created about 30 individualized chairs, based on the designs of the Adaptive Design Association, an organization that specializes in creating customized seating from low-cost, recyclable materials. We received a training from the founder of the organization, Apple Sepulveda, before we left for the trip. (She also happens to be in the OTD program currently!) This was the first time the EN/Ability Project decided to do this type of program, so it was exciting to be able to start off a new tradition for them.
We met up with around 30 volunteers in Cebu City, and from there we were transported by bus around 2-3 hours north to a small town called Borbon to meet the children we would be assessing and measuring. The volunteer group was a mix of people from different backgrounds and disciplines; some OTs, PTs, and other local volunteers who just wanted to help out! The USC students served as team leaders, and our teams were composed 1-2 other local volunteers. Each team was matched up with 1-2 children, who we met and measured on that first day. I was really glad I had a local volunteer on my team who spoke Cebuano, the language of this region, as the families we met did not speak much English.
After we met the children and families, we headed to our vacation house that all of the volunteers would be staying in for the duration of the program. Lemme tell you . . . that house was awesome! It was three-stories, large enough to house all 30 volunteers. The house was super spacious, with enough room for all of us to build our chairs. There was even a large lap pool and basketball court in the backyard, with beach access right behind the property! The great thing about this project is that the organizers wanted to make sure that there was a good balance of work and fun, in order to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.
The first night we took all of the donated cardboard and layered them with glue, to serve as the foundation for our chair building the next few days. In the US, we have much thicker, sturdier cardboard. However in the Philippines, they only have 1-ply cardboard which is much thinner, so we needed to layer about 4 sheets of cardboard in order to have a study base. We also spent some time on our team planning out and sketching our designs. The next day, the building began! With our measurements in hand, lots of cardboard, glue, and power tools, we spent the next few days focused on creating the chairs. I knew it was going to be a lot of hard work going into it, but it was much more labor intensive than I even anticipated. (Plus, the humidity of the Philippines didn’t help much either.) After 30+ hours of labor, all of the hard work was worth it once we saw our finished products and the smiles on the children and families’ faces.
From this . . .
We made this . . .
Which became this!
Hopefully the children and families are happy with their new chairs. 😊
One of the best parts of this experience was not only meeting the children and building the chairs, but also getting meet and collaborate with OTs from the Philippines and creating new friendships. As visitors, we felt so welcomed by all of the local volunteers. We even karaoked and toured around the island with some of them afterwards!
Overall, I had such an amazing externship experience and visit to the Philippines — I would do it all again in a heartbeat! Check out this video, made by the EN/Ability Project, that highlights our whole experience!
Annyeonghaseyo Korea! ⟩
March 22, 2016, by Rashelle
Hello all! The past couple of weeks have been a crazy whirlwind of events for us second year master’s students. Each year for our leadership capstone, USC students participate in a 2-week externship. Heather describes in detail what that is in her previous blog.
I, along with 10 other classmates, chose to go to South Korea, to participate in one of externships provided by the USC Chan Division of Global Initiatives. We were split between three universities, Inje, Yonsei and Soonchunhyang, and were able to experience a cultural immersion within each respective occupational therapy department. We learned about occupational therapy by studying the diversity within health care and educational systems, along with culture-specific population needs of people with disabilities in Korea. As occupational therapists we realize the importance of understanding each client’s customs, routines and motivations in order to help them participate in meaningful activities. Inje University allowed us to obtain this cultural knowledge by interacting with professors and students, participating in occupational therapy treatment sessions at the HOPE clinic (Healing through Occupational Performance Enhancement) and attending classroom lectures. Dr. An, the therapist and professor we learned from in Korea, taught us specifically about how to be a compassionate, energetic and knowledgable leader in one’s field, which is a lesson that I will take with me no matter what practice area I enter. By coming to Korea we all received much more than we had expected. Aside from all of the knowledge gained about occupational therapy, we believe that we have truly grown as individuals by the relationships formed with Inje University administrators, professors and students.
Furthermore, while I learned so much from actually going to Korea, the best preparation for this trip actually came from meeting Korean students ahead of time during their visit to the United States! Six Yonsei University students actually came to USC about a month ago to experience a similar cultural immersion in America.
While they were here to learn about occupational therapy at USC, we actually learned so much from them as well!
They were able to give me a heads up on what to expect in Korea, and how to impress my friends at Inje University with popular Korean expressions and cute little hand gestures.
Now I can truly feel as though I know both sides of a cultural immersion, by serving as a host to Korean visitors, as well as a guest of honor. Neither of these experiences would have been possible though, without the planning and coordinating efforts of Dr. Daniel Park, and the rest of the USC Chan Division of Global Initiatives.
I am forever appreciative for the work that Global Initiatives has done to make these remarkable experiences possible! If you want to learn more about other Global Initiative projects you can see their Facebook at facebook.com/USCChanOSOTGlobal
Leadership Capstone Project Part 2: PhilaPinas Drive ⟩
April 21, 2015, by Jonathan
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. 😊
Here’s a video capturing the leadership capstone experience and some pictures documenting the PhilaPinas drive. Enjoy! 😊
Until next time,
¡Pura Vida! ⟩
April 13, 2015, by Leila
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. :cheese: