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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Marvyn

7 BEST Photos from my PP-MA Classmates >

by Marvyn

Diversity International Living in LA

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In light of the 7th day of Blog-mas, I decided to show off 7 of my wonderful classmates who make our class as unique as it could be. I am so honored to be part of their class, and I figured they needed to be highlighted as well. I asked them what their BEST photo is here in LA so far, and why they think they chose that photo. Check it out!

Cindy Teow: “I really enjoy nature, so hiking at Eaton Canyon with my classmates was the highlight of this season for me! They made hiking enjoyable though the hike was tougher than expected. The same could be said for this semester, their cheerful and helpful disposition made this semester manageable.”

Nandita Raman: “This picture was taken at a place I recently visited place called ‘The Last Bookstore’. It is truly a paradise for book lovers like me. The atmosphere is so warm and cozy, and it brings out the magic of books. This is one of the best places I have been to in LA!”

Tristenne Ocampo: “This photo captures what life has been as an international student in LA — so much life, art, and color! this applies to the food, places, and people I have encountered.”

Florence Yang: “Exploring nature, practicing yoga, and taking photos are all things that bring me joy and energy, and this photo encapsulated my most joyful moment. I took this photo while I was hiking through Switzer falls trail with my friends. I love how this trunk was lying beside the trail, which created the perfect spot for a split!”

Godfrey Lok: “This photo is my personal best in MA-1. It was taken when we had an Halloween celebration event. All of our class dressed up and we were having so much fun in the patio! Could you tell what characters are we mimicking?”

Vanessa Mesa: “This is my best photo because it reminds me of the good days that spontaneity can bring about. Saying yes to last minute events can sometimes turn out to be one of the bests I can look back to!”

Jean Chen: “My new life in LA has become brighter because of getting to know new friends at USC. We could freely share our ups and downs together. Here we are enjoying a meal at my house.”

I would like to thank my classmates for participating in my blog! Living in LA has been a blast for us, international students, and I believe there will be much more adventures to be found along our journey.

My Experience with the Pen Pal Program >

by Global Initiatives Team

International What are OS/OT?

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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?

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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.

Reconnecting with my Filipino Roots at USC Chan >

by Global Initiatives Team

International What are OS/OT?

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By Abby Khou, Entry-Level Professional Master’s student and Global Initiatives volunteer

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

Abby's visit to Palawan, Philippines

Abby’s visit to Palawan, Philippines

When I first came to the United States as a Filipino immigrant in 1999, I didn’t realize that one of the questions I would be asked the most is “are you a nurse?” While it is one of the popular Filipina stereotypes, it does hold some grain of truth — many Filipino men and women come to the US and either study nursing or work as nurses. In Filipino culture, healthcare workers are held in high regard. I would hear some of my family members boast of their children who work in the medical field or are the pride of their families because of their line of work. Why do Filipinos make such good healthcare workers? I may sound a tad bit biased — my mom is a nurse in Pennsylvania and my dad is a doctor in the Philippines! 😊 I believe that Filipinos are intuitively compassionate, caring, and selfless. They go out of their way to make other people feel comfortable, even when they’re sacrificing their own comfort.

It seems almost inevitable that I would end up pursuing a healthcare career, but I never thought it would be Occupational Therapy. I didn’t see myself as a nurse because I was always a bit anxious when I would get blood drawn. I only found out about OT 4 years ago because of my son’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Being a big proponent of Early Intervention, I learned about OT as a parent sitting in on his OT sessions and conversing with his OTs in his Early Intervention program and outpatient pediatric clinic. His OTs made such a big impact in his growth and development that I decided I wanted to do for others what my son’s OTs had done for him. I had been working in public relations and marketing since 2007. In Manila, I was working at a TV network in 2001 and had no idea OT even existed. OT in the Philippines was at its infancy in 1917 when the Philippines’ government enacted the Revised Administrative code, which ensured that those who were injured while serving the government were compensated for ensuing disability and/or injury while serving. OT was introduced to the Philippine Civil Administration Unit I (PCAU I) General Hospital by Andre Roche, an OT of French origin. Similar to in the U.S., OT in the Philippines had its roots in the World War — the purpose of PCAU I was to care for Filipinos and Americans who were impacted by WWII.

Palawan, Philippines

Palawan, Philippines

Now in 2021, as a Filipino-American and non-traditional OT student who is pursuing the profession as a second career, I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with my Filipino roots at USC Chan. OT is quickly becoming a sought-after career in the Philippines, and I have met quite a number of Filipino international students pursuing their Post-Professional MA degrees in OT. Two kababayans (fellow Filipinos) were my instructors as OTD residents in the summer and fall. One great interaction I had was with Jerzl Awit, who is the OTD resident for our Quantitative Research class. I attended her workshop for my Literature Search paper and connected with her during the session because we both speak Tagalog (the primary Filipino language). I also met Nicole Parcon, an MA-1 student from the 2021 SOTI Program and exchanged emails with her after we met on Zoom. Now, she is a friendly face that I often bump into and chat with on campus. The sound of Tagalog in the hallways of USC Chan always brings me back home, and the connections I have already made feel like the comfort of warm sabaw (soup) on a cold, rainy day. I am proud of my Filipino colleagues who passionately pursue their OT degrees at USC Chan as part of their journey to becoming an OT practitioner.

Abby's visit to Palawan, Philippines

Abby’s visit to Palawan, Philippines

A Turning Point of My Life: From PUHSC to USC >

by Global Initiatives Team

Classes Fieldwork International What are OS/OT?

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By Chen Gong, OTD

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

What made you interested in occupational therapy?

My story with occupational therapy began in 2018 when I was an intern therapist in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at The Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou. As a beginner in OT, I attached importance to function-oriented treatment. However, my instructor encouraged me that I should pay more attention to the patient’s real life. Once, on a whim, I used a guitar to engage a patient with dementia in a music activity. The patient was relieved from the tiredness and boredom of previous therapy sessions. I could see tears in her eyes that this activity was meaningful to her. This incident has completely changed my opinion about OT, and let me really understand the meaning of occupation. Later, because of my love for OT, I came to the dual-degree OT program between Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) and USC to continue my studies as an OTD student.

Why did you choose to continue your education with the OTD?

During my two years at PUHSC, I gained a more systematic understanding of OT theoretical knowledge and gradually found the current situation of OT promotion in China. In many general hospitals, OTs have not found their own optimal practice area. OTs are unable to establish their professional identity and carry out meaningful acts of therapy. I deeply feel the inadequacy of my own ability. I look forward to further improving my professional level and leadership, exploring the OT market, and leading the development of OT in China in the future. I believe that studying at USC Chan will help me to achieve my goals.

Master’s degree ceremony: Peking University, Beijing, China, Summer 2021

Master’s degree ceremony: Peking University, Beijing, China, Summer 2021

How has the transition from MSc in PUHSC to OTD been?

China and the United States have very different cultural backgrounds. This ranges from the perspective of OT education, the way of communication between people, the atmosphere of class and work, and the pace of life here are all different from before. It has basically been like learning how to grow up and live again. Fortunately, I quickly adapted to the lifestyle and study context here. For the first semester, I am working with Dr. Emily Sopkin and Dr. Shawn Roll separately for pedagogy and research. Now I can actively act as a mentee.

Chen’s First photo with USC Chan Division, Fall 2021

Chen’s First photo with USC Chan Division, Fall 2021

Describe your experience of OT school at PUHSC vs USC.

Studying OT in PUHSC for two years was really a very good experience. We completed the Master’s courses required by USC, and the way of teaching at PUHSC was similar to USC Chan’s classes. In addition to the courses, we all completed a certain research project and published a paper in Chinese core journals. Through this, I have special appreciation for my mentor, Professor Ninghua Wang and her support for my research work. I also really appreciate my instructors Dr. Jane Liu, Dr. Liguo Qian, Dr. Hui Wang, Dr. Lily Xu and Dr. Buwen Yao, who were all students of USC Chan, and their efforts to localize these OT courses. Studying OT at USC is exciting. I can feel leadership everywhere. This immersion allowed me to think about how to develop my leadership. The Chan Division has its own unique experience in pedagogy, research, and clinical practice. I am sure I can learn something different from what I learned in PUHSC, especially in clinical practice.

Unforgettable lunch with Dr. Emily Sopkin, Fall 2021

Unforgettable lunch with Dr. Emily Sopkin, Fall 2021

What do you think about your OTD residency so far?

It’s great! My residency for the first semester is mainly about pedagogy and research.

For my pedagogy residency I am a teaching assistant for OT 440: Kinesiology, which was also my favorite class when I was a Master’s student at PUHSC. I enjoy this job. I developed a good mentoring relationship with Dr. Sopkin. I try to be creative by sharing knowledge related to the course with my students to help them learn from different perspectives.

For research, I’m working in the Musculoskeletal Sonography and Occupational Performance (MSOP) laboratory. Now I am gradually getting involved in existing research in the lab, which makes me feel fulfilled. As Dr. Roll said, “I don’t think it’s that important for you to learn a particular skill. It’s more important to immerse yourself in the research environment and see how research works.” I couldn’t agree more.

What kind of OT do you want to be in the future? Your plans/goals after OTD graduation? Or how will you promote OT services in China?

Actually, I want to be an active OT, who is purposeful, has great leadership skills and knows how to promote OT effectively. I also hope that I will be good at several clinical skills, which will help me establish my professional identity.

I plan to work in the OT department of a general hospital, mainly engaged in the occupational therapy of musculoskeletal and neurological disorders of the upper limbs and hands, and also undertake part of the teaching work, e.g. combining what I learned here with China’s clinical context and then trying to establish a practical framework of occupation-based hand therapy education. As for research, I will try to design and lead research projects and apply for national funding.

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