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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Jonathan

Leadership Capstone Project, Part 1 ⟩
April 7, 2015, by Jonathan

Externships International Videos

Hello everyone! Hope you’re all doing great! It’s been a very busy time around the division as we try to finish up the last couple weeks of the semester strong. As for myself, I have been keeping myself busy with my awesome electives, preparing for AOTA, and coordinating OTSC philanthropy events. Most recently however, I had one of the best experiences of my life, which was my leadership capstone project that I led in the motherland of my ancestors, Philippines! I have not been back to the Philippines in 20 years, thus it was an opportunity that I had developed a lot of excitement and anticipation for. I had the pleasure of conducting my externship with one of my dear friends and fellow classmates, Amy. My leadership capstone project had two major phases: the first revolved around the overarching goal of deciphering the conceptualization of occupational therapy services in the Philippines. The second main emphasis focused on being able to give back and spread a positive impact through a philanthropic drive I curated in preparation for my leadership capstone project, which I named PhilaPinas. Through the generosity of my family, friends, and fellow classmates, we were able to raise up $1700 worth of supplies and necessities to be distributed amongst several rural provinces, orphanages, elderly homes, hospitals, and even a University that provides a “rehabilitation through education program” for the national prison. I will write more about the PhilaPinas in my next blog, but first I will start off with my first week on an island called Cebu, where my journey started.

I had the pleasure of spending the first week of my trip at a place called Dynamic Pediatric Therapy Services. It was first started by Berry and Apple Sepulveda, who both had envisioned a model of delivering quality care occupational therapy services in the Philippines, something they both felt was lacking. Apple is currently an occupational therapist and manages several clinics in California. Berry is a fellow Trojan and received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California in 2010. Based on the principles she had learned in her pediatric courses in addition to Apple’s vast experience in pediatric occupational therapy, they opened Dynamic Pediatric Therapy in February 2014, and their clinic provides the following services: sensory integration, social skill groups, feeding clinics, and free developmental screenings and caregiver training in the rural provinces. Being able to navigate healthcare in the Philippines presents its own challenge, as there are some stark differences. For one, health insurance is not mandated; most people do not have health insurance, and even if they do, the support given is often times very minimal. A majority of consumers compensate occupational therapy services through private pay. In terms of specific occupational therapy adaptive equipment, Berry has had to be creative, as most equipment is not accessible domestically or it is too expensive. As a response, Berry has had to resort to other creative solutions; one specific example is a proprioceptive shirt designed by Berry that provides deep pressure for her clients that need this input to modulate. There are additional contextual differences which affect the delivery of occupational therapy services, the largest most likely being financial resources. Berry and Apple both envisioned occupational therapy as something that should be accessible to everyone, no matter what their circumstances. Thus, they provide developmental screenings in addition to caregiver training in the rural provinces, in order to address this gap. Being able to spend the first week with Berry and her team was a great experience, and it was enlightening to see how Berry has translated the foundation she attained at USC and implement it in another country. That being said, Berry, Apple, and their outstanding team of occupational therapists are tremendous advocates for high quality occupational therapy services in the Philippines, and the passion is definitely exhibited in their work.

Berry and her therapist team

Berry and her therapist team

During the same time in Cebu, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Miljoy and Ken King, whose family legacy revolves around three generations of spreading a positive impact in the Philippines, through an organization started by and named after Ken’s grandfather, Juanito King. Founded in 1991, the Juanito I. King Foundation aims to serves as a resource agency to help individuals in need. Their foundation is rooted in the belief that education can break the bonds of poverty, thus the organization first launched as a scholarship program to help individuals in need pursue higher education. Since its inception, the Juanito I. King foundation has expanded its reach and capacities to help others in several ways. The program also focuses on education enhancement projects focusing on building school classrooms, computer laboratories, and teacher training. In 2003, they created a mobile dental van that provides dental services in poor and marginalized communities. In 2009, they created the DREAM for Children with Special Needs project, aimed at providing quality and sustainable therapy services to children with special needs in Cebu. One of the quality therapy services provided through the Juanito I. King foundation is occupational therapy, providing subsidized services that reach individuals who otherwise would not be able to access occupational therapy services.

King Foundation Family

Me with the family behind the Juanito King Foundation

Being able to spend time with both Dynamic Pediatric Therapy services and the Juantio I King foundation was inspiring in so many ways. I developed a deeper appreciation for the work I do as an occupational therapist, and just how great our impact can be.  It was a refreshing experience to see that both of these organizations are leading the forefront in being able to provide high quality occupational therapy services, and assuring that these services are provided to all individuals regardless of their economic background. The fact is, the Philippines is a third world country, and there is still much work to be done. However, with organizations like Dynamic Pediatric Therapy and the King foundation, this instills hope in thousands of individuals who hope to provide the best care for their families, to assure that they are living their lives to their greatest potential.

During the time I had off, I had the opportunity to explore Cebu and Bohol and take in the beauty of the Motherland! Here are some pictures of the amazing sights, and a video of some whale shark diving for your viewing pleasure.

Whaleshark Diving

Whaleshark Diving

Cebu Sunrise

Cebu Sunrise

Oslob Falls

Oslob Falls

Oslob Beauty

Oslob Beauty

ATV'ing in the Chocolate Hills

ATV’ing in the Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills

Chocolate Hills

Tarsiers

Tarsiers

Sunset at Bohol

Sunset at Bohol

Please stay posted for the continuation blog of my leadership capstone project, in which I’ll be writing about the PhilaPinas drive. Thank you for reading! 😊

— Jon

Kristy

Costa Rica!!! ⟩
March 21, 2015, by Kristy

Externships International

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!

Sonrisas

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!

Costa Rica

Pura vida!

Brenda

Buy the ticket, take the ride ⟩
January 29, 2015, by Brenda

Externships

So I did it! I booked my flight for South Korea yesterday. I will be there for about three weeks in March. I am ecstatic! It’s been awhile since my last travels. In undergrad, I had the privilege to study abroad in Vietnam. So now in grad school, I will be visiting Yonsei University in South Korea as part of my externship experience. Externships are a requirement for our OT 540 Leadership Capstone class. This class is taken second semester of our second year in the program. The purpose of the course is to further help students with professional development. Externships are student driven and designed to build leadership, communication and professional skills. They are also intended as a means to explore topics that are covered in class. The options for these are endless. Some students choose to stay locally and explore private practice environments, different community-based organizations, or different clinics and hospitals. Other students also choose to volunteer. Some of my really close friends will be going to Costa Rica to volunteer at an orphanage. Like them, I have decided to do my externship internationally. I will be going to South Korea with division along with seven other students. March can’t come any sooner! If anyone out there has any suggestions of what I should do when I’m there, please don’t hesitate to reply to this post! 😊

Leila

Winter Break! ⟩
December 17, 2014, by Leila

Classes Externships

Last week was our final week of the Fall Semester, and as exciting as it is to be one more semester closer to graduation it is also a little sad. As 2nd year students, we have now completed our final immersion in our cohorts. The Entry-Level Master’s program focuses on three different immersions: mental health, pediatrics, and adult physical rehabilitation. During our first summer semester we were split into cohorts (A, B or C). My final immersion was in pediatrics, which meant it was also my last class with cohort A-mazing. 😊 It has been a great experience getting to know the great individuals in my cohort and see them grow. I know our immersions and complementary classes have done a great job thus far in preparing us to become amazing occupational therapists.

Cohort A Photo

Cohort A Photo

Cohort A Photo

Next semester will be our final semester of classes. We will have the opportunity to take electives of our choice, as well as participate in a Leadership Externship. All 2nd year students will complete the externship in their final semester as part of the Leadership Capstone course. The externship is a two-week experience where students have the opportunity to build on their leadership skills. Students are responsible for finding and coordinating these externships. The places that you can choose to go to are diverse! I’m planning to complete my externship in a Spanish speaking country — possibly Costa Rica or Peru! I’m beyond excited and I can’t wait to share with you all about this amazing opportunity. Until then I will be enjoying my four-week winter break!

Claire as Jack Skellington

Claire as Jack Skellington

Rob

Adventures in Ireland ⟩
April 18, 2014, by Rob

Externships International

One of the unique experiences of our program is the Leadership Externship that all second-year students complete in their final semester as part of the Leadership Capstone course. The externship is a two-week experience that students have the responsibility for finding and coordinating. The diversity in places people go is astounding — from Ghana to Vietnam and from adult day health centers to medical mission trips.

I did my externship in Cork, Ireland at the University College Cork’s occupational therapy program. One of my interests is education and I wanted to see how occupational therapy was taught in other countries. I was challenged more than I expected — visiting an unfamiliar country alone without knowing anyone living there was tough. It helped me realize how much of a home I have built here in Los Angeles in the two years since I moved here from Chicago.

Despite the challenges I faced, I found even more amazing opportunities. While looking at a brochure, I came across a community art group that was building floats for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and they invited me to not only help with construction, but to be in the parade too. How many chances do you have to be in a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland? I couldn’t say no.

The community art group also attracted other young adults from the surrounding countries like Italy, France, and England who came to volunteer their time, sometimes for up to eight months. My last day, a few of my Italian friends cooked me a mouth-wateringly authentic Italian dinner.

Because the externship happens right before Spring Break, there is an opportunity to spend additional time traveling. Those days were the best. I stayed at a bed and breakfast owned by an older gentleman and on my first night he invited me to hang out and have tea while watching a recap of the day’s sports results. He had some amazing stories of growing up in Ireland and living in Australia — I could have listened to his stories all night.

I also went on several day trips, where I took the picture below. I visited Ballycotton, a small, seaside fishing village, and took a long walk along the cliffs. It had been raining lightly, but I wanted to get a picture that captured the green of the land and the blue of the sea and the island with a lighthouse in the distance. In one small moment of sunshine, I set my camera up with a 10-second timer and started running down the hill. You can see how far I made it. It was the perfect moment: birds taking flight as sunshine streamed through the clouds and me running wild down the road. The rain started again as I walked back up the hill, out of breath but content.

Coastal view of road, sea, and island in Ballycotton

Coastal view of road, sea, and island in Ballycotton

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