Saturday, June 3, 2017

Final Day!

Hey all, this is Alayna Ricketts, a student, and Diane Ceo-DiFrancesco, Spanish professor, checking in for the final time on the 2017 Guatemala Service Learning Trip! We had a fun-filled last day of adventures...
- We split into two groups today. One group hiked the volcano Pacaya, while the other enjoyed a shopping day in Antigua. On the volcano, there were a few falls and some difficult terrain, but we successfully completed the climb. We roasted marshmallows and explored a couple of natural caves. Also we compared lava rock from the 2010 and 2014 explosions. The weather was beautiful with no rain and a blanket of clouds that surrounded us as we sat to eat lunch. The group had the opportunity to stop at the Lava shop on the volcano! This shop sells jewelry made from lava rock that supports the communities that live along the sides on the volcano. We enjoyed the hike and its sights! The other group's day in Antigua was filled with delicious food and some sites in Antigua. Beginning the day with a breakfast at a cafe, the group had a full but relaxing day. They went to to markets, an historic convent, and a jade factory.
- We gathered together around 6 pm for a dinner at Hotel Santa Ana and a presentation on gang rehabilitation.All found the presentation eye-opening to the reality of life for some in Guatemala. We ended our final night with group reflection and celebration. Students and practitioners shared the surprises, joys, and special moments of the week. during the celebration, the group ate wonderful cake made by Lisa and listened to a rap created by the students!

As I end my second week with Xavier University Occupational Therapy students in Guatemala, I wish to express deep gratitude for the opportunity to work with these fabulous young people. They have been so curious and open to new learning, anxious to communicate in Spanish, and willing to participate in experiences outside their comfort zones. ~Diane

Hello, this is Carol, the group leader. I am grateful for the completion of another successful service learning experience in Guatemala; this, in fact, our 10th year. Our week has been full, fun, and fabulous. At each of our 3 service sites the dedication of the parents of children with disabilities has been amazing. The parents give their all to improve the lives of their children. Similarly, the love and support provided by the direct line caregivers and professionals is inspirational. The beauty of the people of Guatemala shines through in their every day and endless love they give to their children. Additionally, it has been a real honor and privilege to learn more of the Guatemalan culture and to consider issues of social justice. While in some ways unique to a specific culture or country, issues of social justice also cross cultures and countries and concern us all as we strive to make the world a better place.

Lastly, a big thanks goes to the parents of each occupational therapy student in allowing and supporting your daughter to participate in this service learning experience. Tonight, as we reflected upon the week, I was touched as several students shared that the first thing they would tell when they arrived home was to thank their parents for making this trip possible. Wow. Parents, you are raising daughters who will make great occupational therapists. To the therapists, too, we are grateful they gave up a week of their vacation time to give so freely of their  expertise and their care. Lastly, our hosts were fabulous as they assured not only our safety but connected us to our service sites and facilitated our learning. From Steve, our host, to Rolando and Lisa to all our drivers and interpreters, we extend much gratitude and appreciation.

Carol Scheerer

Friday, June 2, 2017

Final Day of Service Learning (Daryl's Group)

¡Hola! Daryl's group here (Sydney, Nikki, Morgan, Cayla, Carol, Todd, and Clare) to tell you about our adventures in Jutiapa and our eventful drive back to Antigua. Two days ago, we arrived in Jutiapa at the Centro de Esperanza, a rural special education school. In total, we saw 34 clients. The kids were cute as buttons, and we learned so much from the families as well as the the fabulous staff. Morgan, Sydney, Cayla and Nikki loved experiencing occupational therapy and physical therapy in action, and the care plans they wrote will allow the families to continue the therapy they learned with the therapists. The overall trip was anything but boring. We got to see beautiful Guatemalan views, Nikki got attacked by moths, and we saw a minor motorcycle crash on the way back. We left our mark in Jutiapa with a handprint X on the school wall. All is well, and we can't wait to hike a volcano in the morning! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Day 4 At Our Service Learning Sites

Hello family and friends this is Lauren, Carly and Bhanu writing from our service site, Missionaries of the highway.

Today our team split up into four service areas: sensory, occupational, home visits and the classroom.  Tara and Allie worked with Stacia in sensory, Lauren and Andrea worked in occupational, Carly, Claire and Sara went on home visits, and Ann worked with Bhanu in the classroom.

In occupational Andrea and I (Lauren) worked with 9 children.  Many of the parents had concerns about attention to activities the children did not want to do, such as get dressed, eat dinner, and complete their homework.  We recommended to the parents to do first-then activities with the children to motivate the children to complete the tasks that they needed to do.  We enjoyed getting to know the children in the time we had them and we really connected with a few.  We did have a few ornery ones today who did not want anything to do with us, but that is part of the job.  I really enjoyed learning from Andrea and inserting my own ideas and receiving positive feedback.  So far, I have learned a lot from the therapists I have worked with and I am excited to learn more tomorrow.

Visiting the homes of our clients was incredibly eye-opening for the home visit crew (Carly, Claire, and Sara). Ultimately, I (Carly) was really impressed with the families' setup for their children, despite their very limited resources. Both visits involved making modifications to the children's wheelchairs, but when asked if they had any questions or concerns about activities of daily living, exercises, etc. both sets of parents responded that they felt like those activities were going well. Considering the extent of the children's needs, and the heavy lifting on their parents' part, I was really moved by both sets of parents' absolute dedication to doing the best they could by their children. The second visit was the toughest, as we were limited in the modifications we were hoping to provide to this particular client's wheelchair, but nonetheless her parents were very appreciative of our efforts, serving us lunch from their own limited stores and hugging us goodbye as we left.

Hello from Bhanu!  This whole week I have spent time with the psychologist, teacher, parents and children!  And sharing this wonderful experience with the budding OTs from Xavier.  Not much hands on treatment BUT unbelievable dialogue that has included facilitating consultation and collaboration between the team.  Every day ended with a very satisfied feeling of accomplishment that parents and teachers were facilitated to be on the same page to carryout what was best for the child.  Lots of conversation and consultation on ADLs.. my favorite topic!  Shared many tidbits from my book Self-Care with Flair! The children that I saw were adorable, so cooperative, well mannered with great fine motor skills. They definitely were an occupational therapists' dream.  Each and every  OT students that I have mentored  have been great! I wish them a glorious future. Touching lives leaves a very satisfactory feeling that they will experience in the future as OTs.  All in all it has been great experience!  

Buenos Noches!
Lauren, Bhanu, Carly

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day 3 of Service Learning - ABI

  Buenas noches from Guatemala City!
  This is Lorrie and Erin (OT practitioners) coming to you live from ABI, a government-run residential facility located in Guatemala City, near the airport. Today was our third day of service at this site including the Annex, a day program for some of ABI's residents. We spent the majority of our day at the Annex, treating residents with a wide variety of physical and sensory needs. Some of our highlights of the day include:

  • Introducing an iPad to a resident with spastic CP, who appears to be very intelligent however lacks the physical and verbal skills to interact with his environment. This individual appeared to love the iPad, and we are very hopeful that it will help improve his ability to communicate with others and challenge his mind. We are hopeful that our recommendations for an iPad will help secure one for him in the future!
  • Engaging a child with a burned, contracted upper extremity in purposeful reaching activities with his affected arm, which he normally does not use. It was difficult to find something that motivated him, but grasping handfuls of beans seemed to do the trick!
  • Having a teenager--who has only ever used a bottle--eat flan from a spoon for the first time. This has been an undertaking a year in the making, needless to say everyone was very excited at this major development!
  • Teaching the staff at the Annex how to better utilize their sensory integration room, as well as safe feeding and positioning strategies. The staff were very receptive to our suggestions.
  • Working on Spanish letter/number discrimination, PECS, and safe swallowing strategies for some of the residents with our talented speech therapist.
After we finished our work today, we headed to our hostel, aptly named "Hostal Guatefriends". It is within walking distance of ABI; however, we still managed to get a little lost on our way here. :) We were treated to some delicious "Pollo Campero" which we all agreed were the best chicken nuggets we have had in awhile. In addition to the food, we also have the great company of two children living here with their family, who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome.  It may be a bit cramped (8 of us in 2 rooms!), but thank goodness for a nice outdoor patio! The students have been working hard on our care plans for the residents of the Annex, and we are looking forward to spending more time at ABI tomorrow. Signing off now from ABI, stay tuned for a post from Missionaries tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Day 2 of Service Learning

Good Evening family, friends, and followers alike! Writing to you today are Andrea and Clare, two occupational therapy pracitioners and XU alumni. WOW. We had an awesome day today! At Daryl's home, we divided into two groups and were able to see 10 kids throughout the day, all of whom have various needs to be addressed (and all of whom are very sweet). The caregivers at the house were present during most of the sessions and very receptive to learning new ideas and continuing to work with the kids on therapy goals. In the afternoon, we spent some time working at Daryl's second location, where four children who have special needs are currently living.  It is amazing to see the compassion of all the people involved with working at this organization.

At Missionaries of the Highway, Andrea was on the wheelchair team with Carly, Sarah, and Claire. We also could not have accomplished so much without our amazing translators who were busy translating information to and from the family, as well as jumping in to work on the wheelchairs. We saw three children and adjusted three wheelchairs, fixed one walker, and fit a 12 year-old boy with his first wheelchair ever! The new wheelchair took four hours of team work, but the final product resulted in big smiles from both the boy and his parents. For sure, the end result made all the hard work worth it!

According to our sources (aka Erin, fellow XU alum and occupational therapy practitioner), the group at ABI started with a shoe fair.  The group fit shoes to all of the residents at ABI, who were very grateful for their new zapatos (translation: shoes).  Student/pracitioner pairs then spent the rest of the morning observing group routines and assessing some of the children's individual and sensory and oral needs. In the afternoon, the group ventured over to the Annex (a day program for 17 of the children at ABI) and spent some time observing and  treating children there with sensory and oral needs.

Tomorrow, we will be at our service sites (Daryl's group will be going to a different location so stay tuned) and spending two overnights near or at those locations.  We are looking forward to having extended hours of service during these days. FYI, we will rotate bloggers at each site for the next three days. Thanks for reading, we are off to coffee happy hour (shoutout:Rolando). As always, thanks for all the support and following our trip!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Day 1 of Service Learning

Hola  amigos this is Ann and Tara. Today was our first day at our service sites. Overall I would call today a  great first day of being at our service learning sites and we are all excited to go back tomarrow.  Carol made it in today making our group finally complete. Tara wnd I were both at  missionaries of the highway today, there they have a  sensory room, a occupational therapy room, a physical  therapy room, and two special education rooms. On site there is an  orphanage, and a school that goes from Kindergarden through 12th grade. Our job was to  evaluate and modify wheelchairs to improve quality of life of both the client and their family. It was rewarding to see the  instant improvement just by modifying a wheelchair to better fit the client. When we got back from our sites we had dinner then discussed our highs and lows for the day. It was exciting to hear about everyones day and how they were all so different.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Road to Antigua

Hola todos mi amigos! Allie and Nikki coming at ya live from Guatemala! We woke up bright an early this morning to our wonderful rooster friend. We then traveled to Iximche and had the opportunity to observe three traditional Mayan dances. The first was King Iximche, then The Market, and finally Courtship. We learned about the traditional food as well as the ancient game of Pok ta Pok. We also observed weaving and pen wrapping. Walking through Iximche, we saw the ancient Mayan ruins such as temples, ball courts, and the moat. They were all unique and educational experiences that we will be able to incorporate as future culturally competent OTs.

After walking through the ruins, we traveled to Antigua with most of us asleep in the van.  On our way, we were able to drive through the city of Zaragoza, which was really interesting to see after having read about it in our Guatemalan language and culture class.  When we arrived at our hotel in Antigua, we immediately got to work unpacking and distributing all of the donations that we were able to bring with us (thanks again for all the donations)!  We then got the opportunity to walk around and explore the beautiful Hotel Santa Ana before a nice dinner.  Now we are all excited and preparing for a full and fun day of service at our sites tomorrow! Good night everyone!