Category Archives: Advice

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.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash

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.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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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Best Study Spots on Campus

By Sarah Selke

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

The life of a college student is pretty hectic. If you have several hours to spare in between classes, finding a good place to study is essential to getting work done. Whether you like being outside under the sun or inside a building with plenty of lounge room, there’s always a spot to meet your preferences. Here are some of my favorite places on campus to study or simply relax.

Nazarian Pavilion Courtyard

Located behind Doheny Library, Nazarian Pavilion Courtyard is a great place to study while being conveniently located next to the coffee shop Literatea. This tucked away patio has a handful of seats enclosed by the library’s brick-red walls. Grab a drink or snack and settle down in this secluded courtyard for a couple of hours.

Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Queen’s Courtyard

Located outside of the USC Thornton School of Music, Queen’s Courtyard is a grassy park that is frequently occupied by music school students. Shaded beneath a canopy of trees, this is the perfect spot to study, nap, or picnic whilst being surrounded by the faint sounds of instruments playing. 

Hoose Library of Philosophy

Probably the quietest of USC’s libraries, the Philosophy Library is located on the top floor of the Mudd Hall of Philosophy and is a beautiful place to study completely undisturbed. Situated near the Metro Expo line, this library has an ancient ambiance aided by chandeliers and colorful stained-glass windows. There are seats tucked away between bookshelves, making for the ideal spot to study indoors without any distractions. 

Photo by Marie Bellando-Mitjans on Unsplash

Verna & Peter Dauterive Hall

The relatively new Verna & Peter Dauterive Hall is a clean and spacious indoor space that is great for studying. There are plenty of chairs and sofas on the lowest level that offer a comfortable getaway from the bustle of campus center. A beautiful long glass piece hanging from the ceiling makes the interior somewhat reminiscent of a quiet shopping mall. 

Archimedes Plaza

Located near the Viterbi School of Engineering, Archimedes Plaza is the ideal place for students to get some work done. Shaded by cardinal umbrellas, this spot offers fountain views and close access to the engineering library as well as the engineering school classrooms. It is particularly convenient for students studying in STEM classes who might wish to get a bit of fresh air between classes.

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Have A Bowl of Crossing-the-bridge Rice Noodles Before Exams

By Qianhui Ni

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[4.5 minute read]

What do you normally do before an important exam? In some cultures, people will pray to the god of wisdom, or avoid washing their hair because it is believed to wash the knowledge out of the brain. Some tend to wear clothes with lucky colors. For me, my pre-exam ritual is to have a bowl of crossing-the-bridge rice noodles.

Crossing-the-bridge Rice Noodles from Ludingji at San Gabriel

In Yunnan, China, the local people’s diet holds rice noodles to an equal status as rice. Different from rice noodles from other provinces, the traditional Yunnan rice noodles are made of fermented and milled rice. Thus, they have a very slightly sour taste due to the longer fermentation time in the production process. Crossing-the-bridge rice noodles are the most famous cooking method of these noodles. The soup base is stewed with pork ribs, fresh chicken, fresh duck, and Yunnan ham. After simple seasoning, the thick soup must stay boiling and be put into a large, insulated bowl. You can then add fresh fish slices, fresh tenderloin slices, mung bean sprouts, and mushroom slices to the soup individually. My favorite ingredient to add are fresh raw quail eggs. As the raw quail egg touches the soup, the color of the egg white and yolk changes even before they start changing shape in the broth. This is how we magically make a soft boiled egg in a fully intact shape. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to complete this part by myself but was stopped by my parents since the temperature of the soup was too high. 

You are probably wondering why this dish is named “crossing-the-bridge” and why it is connected to pre-exam rituals. One well-accepted version of its origin story goes like this: in the Qing Dynasty, a scholar living in southern Yunnan used to go study at a pavilion in the middle of a lake to prepare for the imperial examination. To support him, his wife often made his favorite rice noodles and brought them to the pavilion. Every time she got there, the rice noodles had already become cold. One day, she accidentally found out that the thick layer of chicken fat covering the soup helped it stay at a high temperature. The rice noodles, the meat, and the vegetables actually tasted more refreshing if they were put in right before eating. Since then, she always stewed the soup with chicken and other meat first, and waited until she arrived at the pavilion before putting in the extra thinly sliced ingredients and rice noodles. With her support, the scholar eventually got the highest exam score. Because every time the scholar’s wife needed to walk across a bridge to reach the pavilion, people named this cooking method “crossing-the-bridge rice noodles” in order to commemorate this talented woman. Since then, having a bowl of crossing-the-bridge rice noodles has become a popular pre-exam ritual for many local people. 

Spicy Rice Noodles from Ludingji at City of Industry

As part of the cultural heritage of Yunnan, China, crossing-the-bridge rice noodles have become a top cuisine that no visitor to the region should miss out on. Before I went to college, I used to take it for granted because there are so many restaurants that sell it in my hometown. I did not realize how hard it is to find authentic crossing-the-bridge rice noodles until I started my life in another country. However, after visiting almost all the Yunnan restaurants in LA, I found two good ones where you can get a taste of this traditional cuisine: 

Yunnan Restaurant:

You can find two Yunnan Restaurants in LA: one is located in San Gabriel, and the other one is in Monterey Park. Here, when ordering crossing-the-bridge rice noodles, you will have the chance to add all of the ingredients to the boiling soup yourself. Apart from the rice noodles, don’t miss the amazing Chinese Salad with different cold meats or vegetables in spicy sauce. 

Casserole Rice Noodles from Yunnan Garden in Hacienda Heights

Yunnan Garden:

Located in Hacienda Heights, Yunnan Garden has a more spacious dining area. The crossing-the-bridge rice noodles here are put in a big bowl in which the cook has already put in all the ingredients and rice noodles. The soup base is great and I’m sure you will love it. 

If you want to try a new pre-exam ritual before a major exam, try the crossing-the-bridge rice noodles and remember the story of the scholar and the talented wife, and hopefully it will bring you good luck.

Featured Image by Frank Zhang on Unsplash

Qianhui is a doctoral student majoring in Psychology. She received a B.S. in Psychology from East China Normal University in 2019. She is interested in how children learn about social agents and the social world. When she isn’t working in the lab, Qianhui enjoys traveling, reading novels, watching movies, and cooking.