Hello lovelies! I am back from the service trip to Nassau, Bahamas. Four graduate students traveled from December 14th to December 21st to provide speech and language evaluations and hearing screenings to families on the island.
What I learned:
- Although both are islands in the Caribbean, Haiti and the Bahamas are distinct in many ways. By many standards, the Bahamas is wealthier. They are economically driven by tourism and there is access to services. Whenever there is a shortage of those specialized services, parents have the option of flying to Florida to receive the care that they need. In Haiti, they are still struggling to rebuild their economy after the disastrous earthquake of 2010. Not only are the services scarce, but people don’t have access or the opportunity to seek the care their children need as it relates to speech and language services.
- When I took into account the fact that “service” is relative to where you are traveling, I had a clearer perspective. In the Bahamas, there is a shortage of speech and language therapists. Families wait on long waiting lists to receive evaluations and diagnosis, early intervention efforts or laws to protect children with disabilities do not exist.
- I grew so much as a clinician as I was afforded many firsts: family intake interviews, learning how to use iPad apps for evaluations, early intervention (0-3 years old) evaluations and an in-service workshop for families in which we talked about what a communication disorders are and how they affect special populations of children (for example; children with Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders and strokes).
How I grew as person:
- Patience. Working in a group and learning when to speak up and when to fall back. My whole graduate school career has revolved around group projects, and although I understand their importance, I also can’t wait for the independence that will come when I’m a certified clinician!
- Learning to take constructive criticism on the spot and applying it.
- Learning that I shouldn’t be so eager to speak for others. Allowing people to learn how to speak for themselves.
- Understanding the type of traveler that I am, and the type of people I feel most comfortable traveling with.
- Choosing my words wisely, and maintaining something I learned while working in hospitality called “charitable assumption”– the idea that I will think the best of someone, and not the worst, when a situation arises and their motives are not known or clear.
Overall, I am thankful for the experience. I grew professionally and personally. I have one more semester left in graduate school, can you believe it? I started here, and now graduation is in sight. These two years have not been easy, and I still have some hurdles in front of me, but nothing I can’t handle without my great team of support, God, and hard work.
Thanks to all my faithful readers on the journey! I appreciate all your words of encouragement, your silent prayers, and your belief in me!
Happy New Year,