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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Magic of GI >

by Global Initiatives Team

Community International What are OS/OT?

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By Maggie Goodfellow MA ’21, OTD ’22

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

If I told you there was magic behind one of the doors in CHP, would you believe me? Well, no — not the traditional type of ‘magic’ that involves playing cards or bunnies appearing out of hats, but rather, something even better. Behind the doors of CHP 161, you’ll find the magic of a global community, the magic of pushing boundaries, and the magic of discovering what it means to “grow together”. In case you couldn’t tell, the first word that comes to my mind when I think about Global Initiatives is…. Magic (surprise!).

#1. The Magic of a Global Community. The door (and room) of CHP 161 can be quite deceiving at first glance. However, upon opening the door, you’ll immediately find a friendly face who will welcome you in and ask you about your day. As someone whose home is across the world in South Korea, the GI office quickly became my home away from home, somewhere I could go when I needed a break in between classes, somewhere I could trust would be welcoming and safe, and somewhere I knew a friend would be. The irony of our small office is that inside it lives a global community. Everyone’s culture is welcomed and the mundane interactions, such as sharing snacks from our respective countries or creating a poster for a holiday, become the building blocks of lifelong friendships. There’s something very special about the friendships built through GI, as they are grounded in our shared love for celebrating each other’s cultural differences and upbringings. Through Global Initiatives, I’ve seen the magic that can happen when you not only keep the door open for others, but also provide them with a seat, listen to what they have to say, and recognize there is always an opportunity to learn from them.

Moments in the office — our door is always open!

Moments in the office — our door is always open!

#2. The Magic of Pushing Boundaries. When it comes to magic tricks, you typically see the outcome but rarely see the hard work and determination that’s required to master them. More importantly, it takes confidence and the belief in yourself that you can do something that seems impossible. While it seems silly to compare the projects of GI to a magic trick, quite frankly, some of the projects did seem impossible at first. To name a few, just over the past 3 years our team has implemented Frientorship Circles, a global poster exchange, a global Pen Pal program, a “Global Citizenship” thread in the new Entry-Level OTD curriculum, and so much more. I’m incredibly grateful to this team who has time after time shared their creativity and demonstrated the power of creating something with their hearts and the intention to uplift others. Moreover, none of this would be possible without Danny Park, who empowers each member of our team to take their ideas and transform them into reality. Together, this is what creates the magic to push and continue pushing boundaries. 

Friendtorship Circle meeting from 2020 — we had students from across all of Chan’s academic programs!

Friendtorship Circle meeting from 2020 — we had students from across all of Chan’s academic programs!

#3. The Magic of “Growing Together”. When I first joined Global Initiatives as a student worker, I was a first year MA-2 student who was eager to learn yet shy in voicing my opinions. It’s funny how, in just three years, I’m able to see so much growth in myself, both personally and professionally. Thank you, Global Initiatives, for being part of my journey and showing me that growth rarely happens alone — it happens through the mentorship and support of others. From celebrating birthdays to accomplishing various professional milestones together, I could not have asked for a better team to grow with by my side.

Fun fact — our team used to be 8 people total! We really have grown together individually and as an office

Fun fact — our team used to be 8 people total! We really have grown together individually and as an office

Everything I know about life, I learned from OT >

by Global Initiatives Team

Getting Involved International What are OS/OT?

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By Josh Digao, Post-Professional Master’s Student

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

I am from a country that still has, at its very core, patriarchal values. Not to say that the Philippines is a backwards country, but I and a lot of the pre-social media generation Filipinos were raised to believe that men were supposed to act a certain way. When you are raised in such an environment, it becomes what you believe to be right and wrong. Growing up, I felt trapped in a box that dictated how I should think, act, and speak in order to be accepted as a tunay na lalaki (real man). “Don’t care too much”, “Don’t show your emotions”, “Never let others tell you you’re wrong.” In my mind, being this arrogant, unfeeling, uncaring person was what being a man meant. But I struggled with that belief; I did not want to align myself with that archaic idea of a “real man.” It was not until I took up OT that I learned I did not have to.

It was in OT school, the pontifical and royal University of Santo Tomas, that I met some of the strongest and most wonderful people who helped me unlearn my ideas of toxic masculinity and made me the person I am today. The first of which was a professor that tried her best to instill in her students the value of being kind. A Mabuting OT (kind OT) - that is what she wanted us to be. For her, it did not matter as much that you knew all the therapeutic techniques in the book, or that you could name every muscle, bone, or nerve in the human body. What mattered was that when faced with a client, you would treat them with the utmost respect and compassion, regardless of status, age, or ability. “It’s better to be the kindest therapist than the smartest therapist” is what she would always tell us. It was not until I encountered my first few clients that I realized just how right she was. Clients, and even their family members, responded best to therapy when they felt that their autonomy and personhood was respected and cared for. 

The second lesson was that of empathy. This one I attribute to the remarkable group of humans I call my friends. I have been lucky enough to be around people who are deeply loving, sensitive, and emotionally mature. Through them, I learned that in order to truly understand the emotions of others, we need to be attuned to our own. However, before I could learn to comprehend my emotions, I had to allow myself to first feel them. This realization would come to not only help me in my personal growth, but in my professional growth as well. In clinics and hospitals, I would often encounter people at their lowest points. During those moments, I realized more than ever the importance of being empathetic to other people’s struggles.

The last lesson came from my clinical instructors during my internship. Being new to the field, I was largely unconfident in my skills and abilities. I had no experience, and on top of that, the knowledge I was heavily relying on was purely theoretical. But when my clinical instructors (all of whom were amazing OTs) gave me feedback, they would focus on what it was that I did well. They recognized my strengths first, and that gave me the foundation that I needed to develop my own professional identity. I learned not only to accept the person I was, flaws and all, but to also be confident in what I bring to the table.

I believe that OTs are some of the most incredible people out there. The kindness and wisdom that I have seen from every single OT I have met continues to amaze me. Though I consider myself to be a deeply flawed person, they have taught me that the person I am is enough. I have learned that the only way to be a “real man” is to be true to yourself. As I am currently in the process of unlearning outdated values from my childhood, I know that perfection is not my goal; kindness, understanding, and acceptance are. If we extend these values toward ourselves, we will realize that at the end of the day what really matters is we are all trying our best - and we can already be proud of that.

Josh and his friends back at UST

Josh and his friends back at UST

Marvyn

A Letter to the Future International Students >

by Marvyn

Admissions Community International

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Hello there!

If you are reading this blog, you are either a current student (whom by no means I coerced to read LOL), you are aspiring to become a student of USC Chan, or you are already on your way to becoming one. Wherever you may be in your life, I encourage you to read on.

Allow me to tell you this: Being a part of the USC Chan community is genuinely a life-changing opportunity. I am not saying this just because I am a student ambassador, but I am genuine when I say that my experience at USC Chan has been so enriching and filled with countless, irreplaceable memories. If you have been following all my blog posts, I have nothing but love for the Post-Professional Master’s program and USC in general. No matter what your professional and/or life goals are, USC Chan is the best place to achieve them. I still cannot believe how lucky I am to belong in such a great community of professionals!

I actually didn’t think I could become a USC Trojan. I was already working as a pediatric occupational therapist back in the Philippines, and I was very happy. I was already touching people’s lives in a way that OTs uniquely do. With that said, I always felt like I needed to grow and expand my horizons. So, when I saw the opportunity to apply for USC in this program, I felt like I was about to battle a behemoth. It was so intimidating. I was asking myself, “Why would the university even consider someone like me to be part of their program? I’m so delusional to think that they would spend time looking at my profile!” The funny thing is, the only reason that motivated me to shoot for the stars, aka making and submitting my application, was because I was stuck in the middle of a pandemic lockdown. I guess you could say that circumstances work for you as long as you give it a shot.

I’ll affirm what you may feel: It is quite daunting to take on such an endeavor as this — being away from your family, being challenged to be on your own, and navigating through your life mostly by yourself. But what I can also say is that in pursuit of your goals in life, everything can be made possible with the exposure you get to people around you at USC Chan. I was so fortunate enough to be given the privilege of meeting such a diverse group of people from all over the world! I never felt like I was alone and I knew that we all have something in common: our passion to become the best occupational therapists we can be. So even if I knew that the road I am taking is very long and difficult, I also know that I have people right by me who can support me in my aspirations.

Breaking out of your comfort zone is definitely what you can expect from this experience. Based on my own experience, I felt like the past year has been such a year of growth for me in a way that’s not just about being an OT. As a dreamer and an aspirer, this past year really pushed my boundaries and shaped (and re-shaped) who I thought I was and who I want to become. I believe that being placed in such an uncomfortable situation can lead to the most growth in your life. Truly, I am a waaay better person than I was before, and I can never trade this evolution for anything.

Now that I’m at the home stretch of my program (ONE MONTH LEFT!), I feel like I need more time. I’m not ready to leave USC Chan yet. It feels like I just got here, and I am still getting used to all the growth I am having under the USC blanket. But that’s the thing, right? Putting yourself in situations that push you out of your comfort zone is a crucial part of the USC experience. Being part of the program is much more than just studying; it is about gaining experiences that will truly change your life. And now that I am almost done with the program, I feel like USC is thrusting me toward another set of challenges and opportunities for growth. I guess I’m liking the feeling of discomfort after all!

Alas, I am writing all this because I just want to tell you all how excited I am for you to experience what I have had during my time here at USC Chan and much more. It sounds bittersweet to think that I am about to graduate and that all of you will fall in love with USC Chan in your own unique way. I will forever be grateful to USC for giving me this chance of a lifetime, and I truly look forward to seeing what the future holds for not only myself but for you as well. You are truly in for a ride of your life.

A spicy podcast from the land of spices! >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity International

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By Prutha Satpute, OTD USC alumni; Cohost and editor of HOTP
By Sakshi Tickoo, BOTh, Personal Counselor; Cohost and PR head of HOTP
By Varada Pisharody, MsOT, OTR/L; Cohost and CEO of HOTP

Editors Brittany Inouye and Abraham Ramirez
Entry-Level Professional Master’s students

Who are we?
We’re the three best friends
that anybody could have
We’re the three best friends
that anybody could have
And we’ll never ever ever ever
leave each other!

We are three OTs from India, who are at different phases in our (professional) lives, with three completely different personalities, living in 3 different time zones (east coast, west coast, and India). Regardless of these differences we have one thing in common — our love for each other and what we do.

We decked up for a long-distance photoshoot for the launch of the podcast. For more details on who we are check out our website: hornotplease.com

What do we do?
Well, throughout our Bachelor degree years we found ourselves within the grasp of knowing what OT was but never really being able to pinpoint how the core values and fundamentals of our profession related to the everyday lives of people. At the same time, when we would watch Netflix shows or social media trends, we would find these amazing links back to the things we were learning in our textbooks about environmental context and human behavior. The more evidence we found of such links, the more we felt the need to create a platform that would appeal to the minds of OTs who were tired of their mid 20th century Western world-view textbooks. So, in June 2021, we founded Horn OT Please — a student friendly podcast that uses Occupational Science as its backbone to understand OT practices, values, and principles with the help of modern-day educational perspectives. Horn OT Please ended up being the first ever Indian OT podcast available on all listener platforms; this was not only special but it added to the sense of value and responsibility for the work we are doing. So, every week despite our busy schedules and unkind time zone differences (I complain because I wake up at 7am on a Saturday!) we hop on Zoom to study, research, and record our sessions. We try to cover a wide range of topics like:

  • Student life
    • Ups-downs, perks-disappointments, joys, and wonders of being an OT
    • What is OT education like in India and other countries?
  • OT Education
    • Reforms in OT books and teaching methods
    • OT soft skills
    • Prepping for the big scary world
  • OT Practice
    • Non-traditional settings, areas of practice, and interventions
    • Personal anecdotes

How do we do it?
Simply reading words on paper did not challenge us to think critically in a client-specific scenario. On the other hand, watching the Oscar winning movie ‘The Father’ gave a visual, auditory, cognitive, mental, and emotional character to the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, making it more real and relatable. We are constantly in search of narratives and stories fictional/non-fictional that can act as a medium for learning and understanding OT concepts. We use scientific manuscripts, journal articles, movies, documentaries, history, art, trends on Instagram, TikTok, and other non-traditional media to blur the line between academic and non-academic learning materials.

Horn OT Please logo

Check out our podcast episodes on Anchor or Spotify.

Why do we do it?
Because we can. For a long time we waited for OT professionals who could answer our questions and make sense of our fanatical ideas. As the three of us have started diverging into different practice areas and settings, our inquisitiveness has only led to more questions that remain unanswered. Horn OT Please is our safe haven. And we hope that it becomes a space where disparate worlds of thought can come together; challenging OTs globally to think outside the box, and further advance our profession.

If you have any questions or would like to know more you can reach us through our socials — email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Instagram: @hornotplease, website: hornotplease.com.

Celebrating Lunar New Year 2022! >

by Global Initiatives Team

Diversity International

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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.

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