"In terms of my internship, it’s been an incredible experience. There isn’t much speech therapy going on in the school, so this is why volunteers like myself are necessary! The students I worked with were amazing. Joe* is an 8 year old boy I worked one-on-one with. He has autism and severe ADHD. He is nonverbal and clearly not much has been established for him in terms of speech services because other than pointing and gestures, he cannot communicate at all. There are no communication boards, PECS systems, or any other alternative forms of communication for him. Behavior is a big issue as well. Although they reprimand the kids, there is a lack of corrective feedback and DRI. The kids get yelled at but behave more out of fear than because they know right from wrong. So corrective feedback is essential in therapy but culture differences and lack of training in the field contribute to that.
The other children are Jake* (16) who has autism, Jesse* (16) who has Down Syndrome, Isa* (11) who I has cerebral palsy, seizures and feeding difficulties, Andy* (7) who has autism and Griffin* (8) who has autism as well. All of the children in my classroom were nonverbal except for Isa* who speaks very little, and mainly repeats echolalia. The kids are awesome though and so sweet. The teachers definitely do their best given the circumstances and genuinely care about the kids. Each day is very routine, and they even adopted the visual schedule system which is great for children with autism"
This is an excerpt from my blog that I kept over the course of my internship in Ghana. The Projects Abroad staff was unbelievably supportive through my transition into African life, and are some of the most friendly people I have ever met. I am currently a senior studying Speech Language Hearing Sciences at Loyola University Maryland in the USA, and felt that this internship was the perfect opportunity to gain some real life work experience before applying to graduate school. I thoroughly enjoyed going to work every day and the children and staff at the school are all incredible.
I highly recommend going through Projects Abroad if you want this type of immersion experience. They help book flights, provide information such as how to obtain a visa, what to pack, and what to expect once in Ghana. When I arrived, a staff member picked me up directly at the airport, sporting his green Projects Abroad shirt for identification, and brought me directly to my home stay to help me settle in. I never once felt unsafe or nervous, and felt very comfortable in the care of Projects Abroad. My housing accommodation was awesome, the friends I made through volunteering were amazing, and one of the staff members is even willing to write my letter of recommendation for graduate school. Regardless of how much experience you have in the field, or how comfortable you are with traveling, I am here to tell you that I managed just fine and I traveled this journey alone. Luckily, I had the supportive Projects Abroad staff to help me navigate through it.
Thank you Projects Abroad! Volunteer with them, you'll be glad you did!