Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SLU PT Study Abroad Opportunity - South Africa

Molo! from South Africa

By: Caroline Lipic (DPT Class of 2020)
Molo! Molo is translated to hello in Xhosa, one of the eleven national languages of South Africa. My name is Caroline, and I was given the unique experience to study abroad for a semester. Given that most physical therapy students are not granted this opportunity, I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of this chance to see the practice of physical therapy on a global scale. Yet, I also wanted to get to know the people of a different culture and grow in community. After reviewing study abroad programs, I found that the South Africa Service Learning Program through Marquette University was the perfect match. Here I had the opportunity to meet influential South African leaders work with physical therapists at a school for children who are differently abled, Tembaletu, and live in community with 18 other students from Jesuit institutions. Of course the tip of the iceberg, was the fact that Cape Town is a beautiful city filled with mountains, beaches, and a thriving metropolitan area.

What did you anticipate? Were you nervous? Excited?

Before arriving to South Africa, I did a lot of research about their deep history regarding colonization, apartheid, the struggle, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I prepared for the adventures that I would have by buying hiking boots, following nearly ten different Cape Town instagram pages, and communicating with alum from the program. Being “born and raised” in STL, this was going to be the longest I have ever been away from home. I found this more exciting than nerve racking. I could not wait to hike, swim with sharks, bungee jump, try new foods, develop relationships, and gain a global perspective. Yet there was still this unease of not knowing what to expect for the next four months. Jokingly, my mom’s biggest fear was that I was going to be step on by an elephant. Due to the fact that I was primarily in an urban area, this was not of high concern. In all reality, my biggest challenge would be accustoming to the culture. So, a lot of emotions were bundled up inside of me prior to leaving. Yet, I was ready to take on this experience head on. A lot of people had helped me get to this point, and I owed it to them and myself to have an experience of a life-time.

What surprised you the most about your experience? What about the other culture surprised or shocked you?
The initial shock of being in South Africa for some reason caused me to have deja vu moments often. From my plane window, I was able to differentiate between townships, the Cape Flats, and urban city area. The fist week we were kept busy with service site visits, orientation at University of Western Cape (fist university in Cape Town to oppose apartheid), and cultural dinners at Marco’s. The effects of apartheid (separation of White, Malaysian, Colored, and Black from 1948-1994) was evident through interactions with people and views of physical locations. Despite the fact that there are still major social, physical, and economical scars of apartheid, the people were very prideful of the country’s ability to take the high road through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The TRC was an initiative set up by the Government of National Unity to aid in the healing of the country after severe human rights violations during apartheid. People came forth and apologize for aiding in violent acts, and asked for amnesty and victims forgave their perpetrators. Public and private programs were established (Amy Biehl Foundation, Nelson Mandela Foundation, Saint Ann’s Shelter), interactive museum were built, and peace of mind was achieved through this commission. Due to this, there was an evident feeling of hope in this nation. Other small shocks involving my transition involved the response of “pleasure” instead of “you’re welcome” or the fact that cucumbers were called marrow. 
What did you see (monuments, historical sites, palaces, etc.) that impressed you the most?
Every Friday, all Iziko South African Museums are free for students; therefore, our group too full advantage. We visited the District Six Museum, tribute to the colored population that lived in this location before apartheid, then displaced to the Cape Flats due to systemic racism during apartheid. The tour guides at this museum are people who lived here prior to the displacement. 
Robben Island, which is where Nelson Mandela was held for the 18 out of 27 years he was in jail. The tour guides for this museum are previous prisoners who were detained due racial discrimination. Other museum include: Bo-Kaap Museum, Apartheid Museum, Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, Slave Lodge, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, South Africa Museum, South Africa National Gallery, Two Ocean’s Aquarium.

Hiking on Cape Town’s three peaks (Devils Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head) was a bi-weekly and sometimes even tri-weekly activity. Especially when there was a full moon. People from all over Cape Town hike up Lion’s Head to see the sunset and the rise of the full moon. We even made it up there for the viewing of the super moon this year! Other hiking adventures involved hiking all three peaks in 18 hours. It was most certainly a bonding experience for the K-house (where we lived) girls.
Part of this program also included anti-apartheid leader speakers who lectured to us every Friday.
Through this experience I had the opportunity to meet former Anglican Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu (Nobel Peace Prize Winner 1984), John De Gruchy (Anti-apartheid leader and author of "No Future Without Reconciliation"), Mary Burton (member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission), Carol Bower (former director of multiple children's rights organizations), Funeka Soldaat (Lesbian assault and abuse activist), Nwabisa Bonxo (founder of Sinako After School program, politician in the ANC, and member of the MK), Ntobeko Nofemela (one of the convicted men who killed Amy Biehl), and Edwin Arrison (chairperson of NC4P).  
One of the more memorial moments was when we attended service lead by Desmond Tutu at St. George’s Cathedral. He has had this service every Friday morning since the end of apartheid in order to gather likely minded individuals in order to pray about the countries future. Before the service began, Tutu asked everyone who he did not recognize to stand up and say their name and where they are from. Then, at the sign of peace, this woman came up to me and said that she had graduated from Saint Louis University. The two of us bonded over being fellow Billikens! At the end of the service, he sunk back in his chair as people thanked him for all he has done for the country of South Africa and world in general. His humble and kind presence is something that I will never forget. 

Can you describe some of the food that you loved best? Any food experiences that didn’t go as planned/well? 
If you know me, you know that I love spicy, colorful, and texture full plates! South African cuisine provided me with all three. More traditional food would be chicken curry (Malaysian influence) or some sort of stew soaked in pap, a stickier version of grits. We would go to Big Mamma’s for fast take-out traditional food, but once or twice we went to Marco’s African Place. Here we had springbok, lamb stew, ostrich, kudu, and finish it off with malva bread pudding. At Marco’s there was also traditional Zulu singers and dancers who interacted with the audience to come up and dance!

Yet, Braii’s were the K-House guy and gal’s favorite way to have a family dinner. Braiis are a South African BBQ, expect instead of grilling burgers and hot dogs, you grill lamb and chicken drenched in Savannah Dry’s and rubbed with Braii seasoning. We would normally have Braiis at the house and invite our friends from University of Western Cape and Service to join.  
Did you make friends with some of the people native to that site? What was that experience like? Did they make you notice things about your own culture that surprised you?
Tembaletu which means “Our Hope” in Xhosa was the school where I volunteered at during my duration in Cape Town. It is in the Guglathu township and is a public school specifically for children with physical disabilities, who speak Xhosa, and want a mainstream curriculum. Since, this is the only school of it’s kind in the Western Cape, children came from all over the Western Cape. Given this, the school has a hostel where students who live too far away or have compromising family situations can stay during the week.
My bruuuus, Dylan and Leilah, were the two physio-therapists that I worked with throughout the day. I learned so much from these two. The kid’s adored Dylan or Mr. D. He would explain to me that while we were playing a competitive game of wheel-barrel, he was evaluating the student’s upper-extremity and core strength or how he buys colorful duct tap to put on the kid’s prosthetics so that they are not scared of them. Leilah has a compassionate nature, and has a strong desire for the kids to push themselves. She brought little things to my attention, such as the importance of teaching a child how to sit up with out drooling, since it would effect their ability to be hired in the future. Watching her interact with the kids, and reminding them that they do have expectations in life has inspired me to approach my future profession with passion. I also grew close with the other therapists on staff: Colleen and Wendy (speech therapists), Melissa and Naz (occupational therapists), and Sister (nurse).
At University of Western Cape, I also made friends with my classmates. I definitely got an interesting perspective from these individuals. There has been a national protest on high tuition fees in South Africa since last year; the movement is called “Fees Must Fall.” This is issue is rooted in systematic oppression of the black population and their inability to afford tertiary education. After protesting efforts were effective last year, Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s President, promised to lower fees and provide other accommodations for students such as better transportation to universities. Yet, these promises were not followed through, and as a result, protesting has continued on campuses nation wide. My friends from school had a diverse view on the situation. A lot of my friends who were graduating this year, were worried about graduating on time. Yet, other friends were scared that if the protest did not work, they would not be able to continue with their education. Conversations with these individuals has open up my eyes to see beyond the surface level issue and to the actual root of the problem. 
 Also, I cannot forget about the K-House girls and boy. Yes, there were 18 of us girls and one boy. We grew as a community together over the four months we were abroad. I can honestly say that the energy in that house was like nothing I had every experienced before. I owe my wonderful experience to everyone in that house, including the program coordinators and staff. 

How was your clinical experience? Did you have the opportunity to learn about new methods or equipment or participate in research?
Two days out of the week I participated in service at Tembaletu (Only Xhosa speaking and mainstream curriculum school for the differently abled in Cape Town in Gugulethu Township) and Sinako After School Program. At Tembaletu, I assisted the physio-therapists with treatments, fixed wheelchairs, led a weigh lifting class, and chaperoned students to visits in the Orthopedic Center. The children were so enthusiastic and motivated despite their conditions (spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, gunshot victims, etc.). They loved to "jika jika" (twist in Xhosa) during therapy sessions, and can crank out push-ups like no other! It would melt my heart, as I watch kids fight over who got to push their friend in their wheelchair.
As part of this program, two other students (Ben Zellmer and Kali Swindell) and I have conducted an advocacy/research project on the need for wheelchair cushions at the school. Wheelchair cushions are in high demand, since they are recommended to be replaced every 6 months in order to prevent pressure sores, infection, and deformed posture in patients. Through our outreach, we have been able raise $645 to go towards future wheelchair cushions and develop a relationship between Comfort Company (wheelchair cushion distributor) and Tembaletu in which they will provide extra wheelchair materials to the school. Additionally, I worked at Sinako After School Program where I helped coach soccer and volleyball teams with kids from Nomlinganiselo (primary school in Nyanga).

Would you recommend that other PT students study abroad for clinical experience? Would you recommend your site to them?
Undoubtedly, yes! Through this experience I was able to take out everything that I possibly could from my study abroad experience. I would like to say, “Enkosi (Thank you in Xhosa) to Saint Louis University for making it a possibility to study abroad in South Africa. Though this sounds cliché, this experience has truly changed by spiritual, academic, and personal life. I’m going to continue my service here in Saint Louis, as Desmond Tutu said, “Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little acts of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student study abroad experiences.  Because of its unique format, the SLU PT program gives students the ability to study abroad the fall of their junior year.  For more information about study abroad experiences at SLU go to: http://www.slu.edu/study-abroad.

Monday, January 23, 2017

SLU PT Study Abroad Opportunity - Switzerland

SLU PT Student Enjoys International Hub in Geneva
By: Ryan Tekolste (DPT Class of 2020)

I chose to study abroad in Geneva, Switzerland due to its proximity to the Alps, its central location in Europe, and also the ability to take psychology courses for my minor. I have a passion for outdoor sports, so being able to spend one third of my weekends in the mountains was ideal. Geneva is a transportation hub in Europe, which made it easy to travel most everywhere else in the contintent. I discovered quickly that Geneva was not, however, easy on my wallet.
After hearing about other student’s study abroad experiences for the last two years, I had an idea about what to expect. I was excited to travel, to make new friends, to converse with other cultures and observe different ways of life, to broaden my world view, to grow in my independence, and for the adventure of it all. I was nervous about the language barrier, balancing my studies with travelling, finding a fun group to travel with, and budgeting. All pretty typical emotions for your average study abroad student.

The first week, I was completely overwhelemed with ensuring I made the perfect experience; putting unneccesary pressure on every decision I made to fill the finite amount of time with the right choices to squeeze the most out of the experience. The overwheleming feeling didn’t last for long, and I now understand it was an important part of the growing process. Geneva culture is heavily influenced by French culture, so the people are polished; some would say pretentious, some would say reserved, but quiet nonetheless. Geneva, though, distiguishes itself by way of its large international sector. It seemed everyone in Geneva had a connection to the UN, an embassy, a NGO, or to the international banking industry.
The Alps are awe-inspiring.
Swiss food takes the form of any combination of cheese and potatoes. Pictured below is rösti, which is cheese baked over hash-browns. Heavy, but delicious. Another form is called Raclette, which is melting a slice of cheese and ‘pouring’ it over the potatoes. No, there really isn’t much of a difference between the two.

I was able to get to know the local students while in my classes and playing rec volleyball with them every week. I especially found it intriguing to hear their perspectives on American politics, as I was there during the heat of this election cycle. They made me realize just how much of a world power, for better or for worse, the United States is, both politically and culturally. They were just as engaged in our election as I was.
I would strongly recommend studying abroad; especially considering it is built right into the curriculum of the program. The personal growth that accompanies the experience is irreplaceable. If you plan to spend a bunch of time in the Alps and/or travel a lot, I would recommend Geneva. If not, study somewhere else. Geneva was too expensive to truly experience, but a nice place to live nonetheless.

This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student study abroad experiences.  Because of its unique format, the SLU PT program gives students the ability to study abroad the fall of their junior year.  For more information about study abroad experiences at SLU go to: http://www.slu.edu/study-abroad.

Friday, December 9, 2016

SLU DPT Student Grows Entrepreneurship Skills with Multiple Contests

Pitch Competitions Lead to Challenges and Growth
By: Dharti Shah (SLU DPT Class of 2017)

I entered a contest called SLU Pure Idea Generator back in September. This is hosted through the Center for Entrepreneurship. To enter, competitors had to tweet a solution to this scenario: "Pokemon Go combined augmented reality & geolocation to create the hottest game of the summer. Combining 2 technologies, what would you create to make the next big thing?"

The contest received over 150 submissions. And from those submissions, 24 participants were selected to compete. I was actually chosen as an alternate initially! When another participant dropped out of the competition, I was asked to be a finalist! The competition drew competitors from all around the Midwest, including schools such as: Iowa State University, Milliken University, and Purdue University.
Rooftop of the City Museum
On October 2nd, 2016, the 24 competitors gathered at City Museum’s rooftop. Our challenge was to come up with a solution to a prompt while taking a 20-minute ride on Big Eli, a 30 ft tall ferris wheel on top of the building. At the end of the 20 minutes, competitors would pitch their solution in one minute to a panel of judges. The competitors were allowed to bring a “brainstorm buddy” with them to bounce ideas with. I actually didn’t end up having a brainstorm buddy, I felt like given the time constraints, it might be difficult to come up with an idea that was mutually agreed upon. Dr. Mike Markee from the Athletic Training Program showed his support at the competition and came to cheer me on! It was through Dr. Markee’s class that I was told about the contest to begin with.

The prompt we were given as we walked onto the Ferris Wheel asked us to come up with an incentive program to attract and retain more students in the St. Louis area. The solution I came up with was a program called Mission STL: Sustainability. Training. Leadership. This program would allow students to be matched with the city’s best educators, health care professionals, entrepreneurs, engineers, and lawyers—any area of interest that the student wanted! They would complete a one-year intensive program for intensive skills and leadership training specific to that field of interest under the mentorship of their advisor. By generating exposure to their fields and becoming more integrated in those professional networks, students could create leadership opportunities to further their growth. As students graduate the program, it would be required that they commit to being a mentor in St. Louis for one year to future students. This pay it forward philosophy best sums up it’s potential to be a sustainable program and give students opportunities of a lifetime. Pictured below is me brainstorming while on the Ferris Wheel—it went so fast!
Dharti Shah
To my utter shock, I was announced as the first place winner of this competition! I was awarded $500 and an all-expense paid trip to the National Conference for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) in Tampa, Florida at the end of October! I was so humbled and honored to be given that opportunity. I looked into the conference and discovered that they were hosting an Elevator Pitch competition, so I thought, “Why not?”, and entered! 

There were over 250 proposals received for the CEO Elevator Pitch contest. I was among 61 students chosen to compete! I created a hypothetical product called EchoMicro, which was an audio amplification product. I came to find out that many of my competitors had real businesses that were generating revenue or ideas that were in very late stages of development, it was so intimidating! The contest was split into 6 heats, there were 3 heats for a track that was for ideas and non-revenue generating businesses, and 3 heats for established products/businesses that were generating revenue. I was in the first track. There were 12 other participants in my heat. Two of those 10 competitors would move onto the next round, semifinals! To my surprise, I was chosen from that group to move on! It was really encouraging to have so much feedback and the support of the SLU students that were there attending the conference. 

The semifinals comprised of 12 individuals, 6 from each of the aforementioned tracks. While I did not move onto the final round, it was so incredible to be among this group and at this level of the competition. I learned a lot from the conference itself, and it was a great networking opportunity to meet students from other universities and entrepreneurs that have found huge success. I was connected with a lot of people who could have a huge impact on my life and be great resources down the road!

In early November, I heard about SLU’s 5th Annual Real Elevator Pitch Competition. I decided to put myself out there and just go for it again! They were accepting 30 second videos that pitched products/companies that were in one of two tracks: Nonprofit/Social Impact and For Profit. I entered submissions for both tracks—my for profit idea was the same product, EchoMicro, that I pitched at the conference in Tampa and my nonprofit/social impact idea was for a hypothetical health and wellness app called All is WELLness. I found out that All is WELLness was accepted, and once again opportunity knocked!
5th Annual Real Elevator Pitch Competition
On December 4th, 2016, 24 competitors came to the Metropolitan building in downtown St. Louis in which we would pitch our idea 12 separate times in real elevators. There were 3 banks of elevators, all of which operated at different speeds. The total length for the rides was about 40-45 seconds, this was consistent for all the banks of elevators. 

How the competition was set up was that there was were about 30 judges total they would be split into the 12 elevators. Each judge was given 8 business cards total. They were instructed that they could offer 6 business cards to any of the competitors immediately after hearing their pitch. The last 2 business cards could be handed out at the end of the round after they had the opportunity to listen to all 12 pitches in that track. There were no stipulations on how many cards the judges could hand out per competitor. The top three competitors in each track with the most business cards would then do one final pitch to two VIP judges in a Tesla ride around the block.

The competitors were split into their different tracks, and began this fast paced process! The 12 competitors in my track each took 12 elevator rides and did 12 pitches in the matter of 15 minutes. In each elevator were 1-2 judges who were deciding if our pitches would “WOW” them in a real life setting. This was a tough process, it went so fast! If you had any mis-steps with your pitch, you couldn’t dwell on it, because immediately when the elevator doors opened you had to step into the next elevator and start fresh to a new set of judges. I happened to be put in the bank of elevators that went the fastest in my first round, my ears popped on every ride and I couldn’t even hear what I was saying! The final two banks were must easier after that. 

After the 12 pitches in the elevators and after the judges had the opportunity to hand out their final two cards, we gave over the business cards we collected for them to be counted. If I had to throw out a number, I think I collected about 17 business cards total. 
Left to right: Dharti Shah, Erin Dabbs, & Caleigh Bemont
They announced the top 3 in alphabetical order, and again to my disbelief, I was in that top 3! I was joined by Caleigh Bemont from the University of Iowa (right) and Erin Dabbs (center) from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. We each took our Tesla rides individually and gave our pitches one last time. The VIP judges had a combined net worth of 1.4 billion dollars. This ride around the block was a little longer, so the judges had the opportunity to ask us questions for clarification. After listening to all three pitches, they determined the ranking for the prizes. This happened for the top 3 competitors in both tracks.

I ended up taking 2nd place in the Nonprofit/Social Impact track! I was awarded $1,500! What I was even more excited to see was that 5 of the 6 winners (top 3 from each track) were women! 

All in all, this semester has been one of challenges and growth, but I’m happy that I found the courage to put myself out there! These opportunities have opened a lot of doors and have really helped me develop professionally in so many ways. I viewed these opportunities as a way from me to work on my communication skills and presence while speaking to others. The thing that I will take away from these contests was the opportunity to learn and have fun—and that to me is more valuable than any money!

You can learn more about these events on the website for the Center for Entrepreneurship.

Friday, November 18, 2016

SLU DPT PYIII Students Kid Around During Pediatric Seminar

Pediatric Seminar - Annual Baby Lab
Primary Instructor: Mary Jo Davenport, PhD, PT

Students enjoyed the opportunity to examine many different questions about how infants and young children of various ages develop, learn, and master gross and fine motor skills.  As each child engaged in various play and movement activities the students analyzed, compared, and discussed how children move at various ages.  This was a also great opportunity for students to compare social, and language skills among infants and toddlers of various ages. This lab was made possible with the help of faculty and staff who generously volunteered their adorable children for participation.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Turkey Bowl 2016

Congratulations to the PY 3's for winning Turkey Bowl 2016!  

Thank you to Dalton, Mike, Emma and Jen for planning the event.