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The Global Internship Experience of two speech-language pathology students and two occupational therapy students from the University of Santo Tomas at Seton Hall University in New Jersey

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By Gabrielle Marie Yulo University of Santo Tomas

Out of the comfort zone UST students receive their welcome packets upon arriving at the Seton Hall University

As students aspiring to be allied health professionals, we constantly seek knowledge and we are aware that we can learn from each opportunity we may encounter. We are also aware that learning is not just obtained through our interactions with our professors and our peers, but also through our regular exchanges with others in the field, such as our encounters with our patients both here and abroad.

We are fortunate that in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences of the University of Santo Tomas, the Global Internship Experience (GIE) program is offered to students in physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports science, and speech-language pathology to allow exposure to academic and clinical practices and research in foreign partner institutions such as Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Recently, two speech-language pathology students, Ariana Marie Louise Uy and Andrea Marie Beatrice Uy, and two occupational therapy students, Elmo Luis Nicolas and I, accompanied by a faculty member, Carol Mae B. Gutay, and participated in a GIE program at Seton.

The program allowed us to showcase the quality of Philippine education, as well as the competencies, compassion, and commitment of Thomasians. We were able to work closely with our counterparts, considering that we are studying for professions not so well known in our country and much of what we come across stem from Western practices. Having this Seton experience, even for just a brief period, enabled us to have a glimpse of what it was like to be a student in their part of the world.

As a growing profession in our country, it would be safe to say that a long path has to be paved for both professions to be more established locally. Our experiences in the GIE program have served as building blocks for us to contribute to the evolution of our professions as well as our personal careers. We were exposed to students, teachers, supervisors, and patients from another country and we were acquainted with such vibrant cultures and backgrounds both on a personal and societal level. There, we learned to establish rapport with different kinds of patients and clients and, personally, I created meaningful and, with hope, lasting relationships with mentors and peers. On a larger scale, this encounter significantly contributed to an increase in awareness of possible improvements that can be done with health service delivery in our country. This realization motivated us to strive harder toward an advocacy for our patients and clients with disabilities.

Being part of an internship experience abroad—with activities that consisted of attending classes, doing group works, introducing to them the Philippines and the status of the profession in our country, visiting what used-to-be postcard landmarks, educating our taste buds with their cuisine, and diving into a whole new culture and widening our perspective about our soon-to-be profession—was an exceptional opportunity.

Indeed, learning for us is not just confined within our university but expands across borders. Learning does not stop. It’s a thirst we can never quench.

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