Category Archives: Adult Responsibilities

USC Student voices on Occupational Therapy

By Leah King and Trisha Willie

Editor’s Note

Many of the Conversation Partners and Conversation Leaders at the American Language Institute study in widely different areas, and many have also noticed how their respective fields relate to the global community. Here, two ALI Conversation Partners, Leah King and Trisha Willie, lend their thoughts on the field of Occupational Therapy, how it has impacted their lives, and what it may signify for cultural awareness and learning on a larger scale.

-Natalie Grace Sipula, Editor

[7 minute read]

CULTURAL AWARENESS AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY

By Leah King

Currently, I am a first-year graduate student at USC’s Chan Division of Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science program. Occupational therapy is a discipline in which therapists have a goal to help individuals better participate in meaningful activities. These activities include eating, going to the bathroom, socializing, leisure activities, cleaning, and other daily activities that they are currently encountering difficulty with due to injury, chronic conditions, or other sets of circumstances. I love occupational therapy because I get to help people compensate or restore their ability to engage in meaningful occupations. Something I have noticed throughout my time studying Occupational Therapy is that meaningful occupations are defined differently between cultures.

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I was raised in a multicultural family interested in learning cultural nuances, hence my Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Area Studies. However, I never thought that my two degrees could work together until now. I gained a deep respect for the practice of cultural awareness from this degree, and I gained relatable experience in cultural responsiveness through various abroad programs and Global Initiatives. As part of a collaborative and diverse team, we continuously develop programs to support the international OT students and Angelenos. Through this experience, I have been able to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures as well as creating cultural awareness amongst others.

Through Global Initiatives I collaborate with the Peer Exchange and Strategic Planning Committee to orchestrate and facilitate various programs and events for the community, such as the Lunar New Year event, Peer Exchange meetings, and Summer Occupational Therapy Immersion Program. Further, I used my role to take it a step further and look for potential collaborations with other organizations such as Front Porch and OTSC Philanthropy to help serve international students and improve the community in Los Angeles.

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I also get to learn about culture through USC’s American Language Institute as a conversational partner. As a Conversation Partner, I view my role as more than teaching English; I see that the international students have an ultimate goal to integrate into a new culture, and I am committed to helping them achieve this. In addition, I see being a Conversation Partner as also a great opportunity to have a cultural exchange. Whether I’m answering questions about aspects of American culture or learning about Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese culture (to name a few), the cultural exchange that occurs is invaluable.  OT is a career that can have profound impacts on others. I recognize that part of this impact is understanding the need to exercise cultural awareness in not only my practice but also the collective Occupational Therapy profession. My duty as an OT is to help patients lead meaningful lives, which is achieved by learning about different cultures to be an ally and a global citizen.

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY HERE AND ABROAD

by Trisha Willie

This past year, I have had the chance to refine one of my passions: Occupational Therapy, my undergraduate major. Many individuals are inhibited in fulfilling their occupations (their meaningful daily and personal activities) because of various circumstances—old age, a neurological disorder, mental illness, or even stress accumulated throughout this pandemic. Occupational therapists help these individuals gain as much independence as possible through rehabilitation, lifestyle modifications, and adjustment strategies.

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If you’ve never heard of OT, you are not alone! Although it is a growing field, I still find myself explaining it to people I meet, and even to my friends and family members who wonder what exactly it is I study at USC. However, you may have heard of it by a different name depending on where you’re from. “Occupational therapy” can be translated in many ways, but even other English-speaking countries call it something different. I learned in one of my classes last semester that some refer to OT as “ergotherapy.” There are also other models of occupational therapy abroad, such as the Kawa Model developed by OTs in Japan. There is even a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) that sets standards for international OT practice! The WFOT also advocates for global education, research, and leadership, all of which are important for developing the profession. I also learned about this organization in my coursework this past year, and I’ve been really inspired by the idea of promoting OT internationally. The WFOT even has an annual World Occupational Therapy Day (October 27 if you’re interested!) intended for practitioners in all of the organization’s 105 member countries to raise awareness about and celebrate OT.

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Adjusting to the College Workload

By Sarah Ta

[3 minute read]

Depending on where you went to high school and how academically challenging it was, you will either be super prepared for the amount of homework the average college student has or you will be overwhelmed by the first week and spend the rest of the semester playing catch-up with your assignments. I was definitely the second type. My high school did not prepare me at all for the amount of work college would give me and I spent my entire first semester trying to adjust. Now that I’ve gone through two full semesters at USC, I’ve learned some helpful tips on how to stay on top of my work. If you are also struggling with balancing your workload, keep reading for some studying methods that might make your academic life a little easier.

The first tip I have is to get your sleep schedule back on track. It is common to stay up late one night to work on a paper and then end up falling asleep in class the next day. Unfortunately, this causes you to have even more work to do. This forces you to stay up late again and before you know it, your sleep schedule is backward. Establishing a regular sleep schedule will not only help you feel more like a human again but will also improve your productivity in the long run because you will have more energy and be able to absorb information better. It might seem impossible with all the work you have but trust me, it is possible and will make you feel a million times better.

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The second tip I have is to split your free time into just working or just relaxing. For example, you have two hours in between classes. You can either work during those two hours or relax, but only choose one. If you choose to work, silence your phone and devote the entire time to just working. If you choose to relax, find a stress-free activity to do and let your mind relax. Instead of having your work open in front of you but not actually doing any of it, choosing either to work or relax allows you to devote your entire focus on one action and boost productivity. However, it is important to make sure that your choice to work and to relax is balanced, or that can result in other problems.

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SUSTAINABILITIPS: How to Incorporate Environmental Sustainability into Your Day

By Josie Macdonald

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

One trend that has been gaining traction lately is the push towards integrating environmental sustainability into our everyday lives. The issue with trends, however, is that they always fizzle out. Changing small practices in our everyday lives to make them more sustainable is easy and can have long lasting impacts on future generations. As humans, we have created a lot of great technologies that make our lives more efficient. The tradeoff has been the negative impact they are having on the environment. Sustainability involves using practices in our everyday lives that reduce waste, reverse the impacts of climate change, and allow us to support the continual health of the population. Living sustainably is too important to just be a trend! So, what can we do as a generation to make sure sustainability stays relevant?

Here is an açai bowl I had! It was delicious, nutritious, and completely plant based. It even had protein because of the peanut butter!
  • Eat less meat! Animal agriculture is unhealthy for the environment because of the pollutants that are released by factory farms. In fact, factory farming is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, it is not very sustainable. Chickens, pigs, cows, and most of the other animals we eat are herbivorous, so they don’t eat any animals. Thus, eating animals is like eating second-hand plant nutrients. Also, they eat much more than humans. If we eat less animals, factory farms will breed less animals because it is not cost-beneficial for them, and the crops used to feed animals could directly feed humans (and since we eat less, it would feed many more of us)! As if sustainability and was not a good enough reason to eat less meat, the impact on our health is another great benefit. One documentary that I watched on Netflix called The Game Changers explained the numerous health benefits of a plant-based diet. Even if you don’t want to give meat up completely, try starting with Meatless Mondays! Starting a plant-based diet can seem very intimidating and limiting at first, but in my experience, it can also create opportunities to try new foods!
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  • Use less water! One thing we have probably all heard is to remember to turn off the water when we brush our teeth, and that is very important. The EPA estimates that leaving the water running while we brush our teeth wastes an average of 4 gallons per brush. If you brush your teeth twice a day, that is 2920 gallons (11054 liters) per year! Another simple way we can save water is by buying low-flow shower heads. They are usually inexpensive, and there are a wide variety of options to choose from. Another benefit for you is that you will save more money on your water bill each month!

  • Compost! This is one of the most underrated practices in our world today. So what exactly is composting? Compost is essentially the controlled decomposition of biodegradable materials, including but not limited to: leftover food, eggshells, paper waste, and some plastics. Instead of throwing these items in the garbage, we can compost them! Many people can create a compost bin in their backyards, but if you don’t have a backyard, you can create an indoor compost bin. Composting can enrich the soil with nutrients, which creates healthier plants for us to eat because it reduces soil erosion and runoff. Composting is not only sustainable, but it is also regenerative. While it is important to live sustainably, it is even better to be able to live regeneratively. This means that we are living sustainably by not depleting Earth’s resources, but also giving back by creating more resources for the Earth. Composted matter brings a lot of organic matter into the soil, allowing the soil to store more water, sequester (or extract) carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, and give plants more nutrients. By diverting compostable waste from landfills, you will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and it will reduce your carbon footprint!
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