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