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USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Externship in Thailand ⟩
April 3, 2013, by Alisa

Externships International School/Life Balance

I can’t believe I got a rare opportunity to spend 3 weeks in Thailand. Of course, I took it and ran with it. 2 weeks of externship and a week of spring break. The goal of the externship was to learn leadership skills, so I reached out to my aunt who is the owner of Sammie and Sandy Beauty Spa and the chairperson of a non-profit organization, Zonta International (Bangkok 7 region). Some of the highlights of my externship were that I got to table a booth for my aunt’s company at the Bangkok International Hair Show and a golf course. Those were two different populations, but I had to utilize my people skills to engage potential customers in our services and products. It was a tough crowd I have to say, but it was still a valuable experience. Zonta International had a Rose Day, where all of the regions met up to represent different ASEAN countries. I got to dress up in Thai traditional clothing and networked with the members through an evening of great food and music while learning about ASEAN countries and potential business opportunities there.

Alisa at Zonta Rose Day, in traditional dress


The Road to Centennial Vision: USC–Thailand Collaborations ⟩
December 17, 2012, by Alisa

Classes Externships International

I recently had a poster presentation for my community programming class! It was super exciting to be able to see the finish products of our semester long work. Throughout the project, I learned that although working independent has its perks and glory, it could be very hard to motivate oneself to do project. No joke. Even though I felt comfortable asking my professor any questions I had, it would have been nice to have a partner whom I could bounce ideas with. So, I’ve learned my lesson, but in case you’re wondering about my project, which I’m really excited about. Here is a little synopsis of it.

Title: The Road to Centennial Vision: USC–Thailand Collaborations

Goal: My goal for this potential collaboration is to help USC occupational therapy students and faculty realize the American Occupational Therapy Association Centennial Vision through expanding international experiences and collaborations in ongoing and future projects in order to become more “globally connected.”


  1. To foster a relationship between USC OT Division and Thai universities and organizations
  2. To address a lack of resources available for students and faculty interested in getting international experience in Thailand
  3. To provide unique opportunities for collaboration in future projects and research
  4. To offer a reference by those interested in joining or creating new programs in Thailand so that they know what services are already being provided, what needs remain, and what   possibilities for collaborations exist
  5. To foster a better understanding of the Thai culture and way of life and promote tourism

One potential collaboration I see happening is with the Thai Elephant-Assisted Therapy Project. Here’s a little more about the project:

From the research that I have gathered, a unique opportunity for collaboration is with the Thai Elephant-Assisted Therapy Project (TETP): an innovative intervention for individuals with autism. The TETP was started in 2007 with a two-fold intention: to sustain conservation and welfare of elephants and address autism. The program has provided a binding force that allows for collaboration across disciplines from researchers, practitioners, and students. The research studies have collected data from participants ranging from 11-19 years old and only female elephants were used. Animals that have been known to provide such therapeutic benefits include horses (hippotherapy) and dogs. Young elephants are used in the program since they tend to be more playful, which is considered a plus when working with children with ASD since they tend to have difficulties engaging in play. According to Zailani (2012), the activities incorporated in the program are preparation (e.g., money management when buying snacks for elephants), sensory integration (e.g., singing the elephant song and riding), social skills (e.g., with each other and elephants), and daily living skills (e.g., bathing and grooming). This program is available for free for children with ASD and has been researched by Dr. Nuntanee Satiansukpon, at Chiang Mai University.

I’m planning to do my leadership capstone in March in Thailand and would love to be able to see this in action. Stay tuned!


Year of the Dragon! ⟩
January 23, 2012, by Floyd


Today is the first day of Chinese New Year 2012 and the corresponding zodiac animal is the Dragon, the Water Dragon specifically. Unlike western culture where we celebrate the New Year on January 1st with the dropping of the ball in Times Square, we celebrate the New Year depending of the lunar calendar.

My understanding of the folktale of the zodiac animals came from my grandmother’s stories she told me when I was little. Thousands of years ago, the Buddha decided to designate animals to the lunar calendar to help the farmers know when the best times to plant and harvest crops. He devised a huge race and invited all the animals throughout the land. The first 12 to cross the finish line would be given spot on the zodiac in the order of crossing. During the middle of the race, there was a long river which many of the animals could not cross, so they had to take time in traveling around the riverbed. Rat and Cat were best friends and decided to venture the race together. The cunning and devious Rat knew that Ox could ferry across the river with ease, so he asked Ox to help ferry Cat and him across the river in exchange for his clear sight and the cat’s sense of direction. Ox had poor vision, so he gladly obliged to ferry them across the river. In the middle of the river, Rat thought to himself that he wanted first place, but worried that Cat would be faster than him. So, being devious and knowing that Cat hated water, Rat pushed Cat into the river while Ox was oblivious due to his poor sight. When they reached land, Rat jumped off Ox and was the first to cross the finish line, following by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and finally, the Pig. When Cat finally reached the finish line, Buddha sadly told him that all the spots were taken already and that he would not be able to be part of the zodiac. Cat was furious and swore revenge on Rat, which is why cats are always out for the hunt for rats nowadays.

Happy Chinese New Year!


Terapia Ocupacional ⟩
January 12, 2012, by Chelsea

International What are OS/OT?

I have always wondered about the extent of occupational therapy’s impact around the world. If I ever wanted to move to a different country would I be able to find a good job practicing OT? Would there be a great stigma against disability? How would I advocate for my patients?

This year we have many international students from various countries such as India, South Korea, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan studying in our program at USC and their stories have been intriguing. Many of these students have already been practicing occupational therapy in their countries and have come to the United States to obtain their Master’s or Doctorate from USC. A lot of the stories I have heard indicate that many other countries are less accepting of disability than our own. My friend from India told me that Mothers are often deeply ashamed of their children who have disabilities. In fact, one mother had the audacity to ask my friend how to essentially “get rid” of her child. However, I have also heard stories of countries that are much more accessible to people with disabilities than the United States.

Thankfully, the United States has come a long way since the beginning of the 20th century in terms of disability rights and acceptance. The right of people who are disabled have been protected by Government legislation such as the Civil Rights Act, the Social Security Amendments of 1965, the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to name a few. I would love to learn more about the rights of people who are disabled in other countries. Someday I hope I can travel around Latin America and practice occupational therapy. I speak Spanish and I am taking an elective this semester titled “Spanish for the Health Professions” so I am not too worried about the language barrier, but if I were to practice OT in another country I would need to know a great deal about the rights of people with disabilities so that I could advocate for my patients as I would in the United States. One beneficial resource is the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, which supports the development, use and practice of occupational therapy worldwide. Spreading occupational therapy practice and ideals to areas of the world that lack adequate rehabilitation services is an alluring, yet daunting task and something that I definitely hope to do someday. The world has quite a ways to go in addressing the rights of people with disabilities, therefore I believe that many countries would benefit from learning about the policies we have in the United States and vice versa.


International Holiday ⟩
December 13, 2011, by Kimberly

Community Diversity International

Last week we had an international student dinner to celebrate the end of the semester. Everyone brought a traditional dish from their culture or from their family. All the food was amazing and each dish was even judged for prizes according to taste and presentation. My favorite part of the evening however was sitting down at the long table in the OT Lifestyle redesign Center and talking about all of our different holiday traditions. There was a large Christmas tree at the end of the room which spurred on discussions of Christmas and where the tree comes from, how to decorate it, what the significance of the star is, etc. We also heard about the Chinese Moon Festival and the history behind eating moon cakes. We heard a YouTube recording of an Indian song sung in all the different dialects and languages the nation speaks. How being married in some cultures means you are an adult and thus need to now provide presents for all the kids as opposed to receiving them. There were discussions of what family traditions surround this time of year for everyone and whether or not people were getting to go home. It was a nice celebration in the middle of study week and gave us a chance to pause. I think the fact that we all take time during this season to pause it one of my favorite parts. So, even if you are still working or taking that last final, remember to pause and reflect on your traditions, your celebrations, the people around you and all that has happened this past year.

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