Therapy Abroad

Program Reviews

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Salena
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

What an adventure! This is going on vacation with a purpose! Where you can contribute so much to the people you visit. We were welcomed into the lives and homes of this hospitable nation. From shy smiles to big hugs and thank you speeches from Belizians, they touched our hearts forever.
Our hosts Chad and Ellen from therapy abroad were amazing! Their knowledge of the country and programs made it a rich experience, not to mention all the cultural hotspots we visited. It was a perfect balance between therapy and fun!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I took a taxi solo after attending services at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to rejoin our group in a different town. Chad encouraged me when I told him of my interest of experiencing church in Belize. I was all kinds of nervous when I saw the taxi and the driver. But Chad got me the phone number to an approved taxi and checked in on me, even waiting for me on the other end. Therapy abroad is very accommodating to the individual and takes safety seriously.
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Isela
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Therapy Abroad provided a safe, humbling, and fun academic experience! Belize is a beautiful country that unfortunately lacks resources and access to care. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to treat the underserved populations in different settings. Therapy Abroad made home visits possible! Every clinical experience elicited creative juices and teamwork. There was always an opportunity for the exchange of ideas. I strongly believe we grew as clinicians as we learned from each other and our clients. Chad and Ellen were knowledgeable leaders and amazing tours. They both did a great job in introducing us to all the wonderful aspects of the cultures in Belize. Thank you, Therapy Abroad.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Be flexible and open-minded :) Therapy Abroad provides the opportunities. Take the chance!
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Cas
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going into this program, I had no idea how much I would truly gain as a result of all of the experiences that are given through the two weeks of this program. Before coming to this program, I was not entirely sure that speech pathology was what I wanted to do with my life. However, now there is no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. Therapy Abroad not only gives students the opportunity to learn more about the life of speech pathologist and common tasks, assessments, and treatment activities but the program also gives the students the chance to implement and take charge in running said activities, while also sprinkling in fun along the way. I cannot say enough to truly grasp the level that this trip and experience truly impacted me, the lifelong friends I made, and all the memories it gave me. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to go into speech pathology.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask anything. This program is an opportunity for you to learn at every opportunity. Don't let the fear of feeling like it's a stupid question stop you from asking it. Get the most out of this trip that you can. Learn and take in absolutely everything, because this truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that once it is done you will wish you could do over and over again
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Emma
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved this experience and all of the things I learned while in Belize for two weeks. We led a therapy camp for children with special needs, visited villages for treatments, and also had lots of fun seeing Belize. I gained lots of experience writing SOAP notes, observing licensed SLP's and writing goals for the kids I worked with. We did lots of learning and work during the week, but had lots of fun on the weekends! I would definitely recommend this program to any undergrad or graduate student in communication sciences & disorders!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
One piece of advice I would give to future travelers on this program would be to come in with an open mind and ready to learn. I also would recommend to enjoy every moment, even the time off at night, to get to know the other students and make lots of great memories.
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Adriana
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Words don't do this trip justice. The itinerary was spot on with great places to stay, delicious local restaurants, various cultures, breathtaking scenery, awesome group leaders (Chad & Ellen, hey!) , and beautiful people. This trip was nothing short of amazing. This opportunity really served as an eye opener to me. I am even more grateful for all I have and the fact that I am earning my masters in a field that does great things for great people who are so deserving. I wish I never left Belize. I will be back.....SUMMER 2021 I'm coming for ya! If you have the opportunity to study abroad with therapy abroad...YOU MUST DO IT! You won't regret it! :-)

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Nina
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

It was really fun. Good balance of education and free time. The supervisors were great and Ellen was amazing. I loved Monkey Bay and the trip to Caye Caulker was a nice way to unwind after working at narcie for the previous two weeks. The one thing I didn’t love was everything I was expected to know prior to this trip. I am not studying SLP at my university and felt as though I was supposed to already be accustomed with everything we did. It was less about learning and more about applying the information. I wanted to go on this trip to help me decide what I want to do in graduate school and whether or not I wanted to pursue SLP. Other than that it was a great trip.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Bring lots of bug spray and sun screen. Be prepared to have fun.
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Lauren
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Throughout this experience, I was able to learn in an interactive educational environment and enhance core competencies in the field of speech language pathology, as well as enjoy the richness and challenges of service learning and traveling abroad. I was given the opportunity to work directly with clients, receive specialized training, and learn from experts in the field while also contributing to a unique cultural exchange experience.

Housing:
For the first few days of the trip, I stayed in Monkey Bay. It was dorm style housing. I stayed in a room with 8 other girls in the program. It was charming and SO much fun. Ellen was there every step of the way to make sure we had everything we needed. As a whole, I can't say enough nice things about Ellen! Monkey bay was great. The only downside of this place was the WiFi never worked. It made report writing and sharing very challenging. We tried to overcome this challenge by using and sharing flash drives. Also, the bugs at this location were pesky so don't skimp on bug spray!

Next, we stayed at Martha's Guesthouse in San Ignacio. This was another awesome accommodation. The WiFi and AC was a significant upgrade. There was plenty of room to complete our reports. The staff was friendly and the food was amazing.

Therapy Experience:
The therapy experience was amazing. We were able to see a wide variety of clients. We were not given much information on the clients before seeing them. This forced us to be extremely flexible. Prior to seeing the clients, we were only given their name and a possible date of birth. If you are a student clinician, here is a list of things I wish I had brought: nasal mirror, PECS to leave with families, latex free gloves, English and Spanish visuals with Belizean pictures, a tongue depressor, and ASL visuals.

Overall, this experience was incredible. If you are given the opportunity, GO! You will not be sorry.

What would you improve about this program?
I would recommend that as the program progresses, that Therapy Abroad give more information about the clients to the student clinicians prior to leaving for Belize. This way clinicians can be better prepared with materials and assessment tools. The program only had two formal assessments. If we were provided more information, we could have brought more to help us better assess. The program should also obtain a formal articulation test. Another recommendation for the program would be to have more audiometers. This was a problem throughout the trip as we only had access to an audiometer for one day. Access to an audiometer would allow clinicians to better assess the clients and rule out any existing concerns. One part of the trip that was difficult was leaving. I would recommend a trip where specific groups go for caregiver and/or teacher training. This way we could provide functional communication strategies to a wide range of people.
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Audrey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Belize was an unbelievable experience. I gained clinical knowledge and traveled while doing it! I loved the variety of clinical settings that we experienced (villages, nursing home, schools). The food and juices were amazing.
If you have the opportunity, bring items that you can leave for the villages and/or schools. Stickers were a big hit! I would also recommend bringing a whiteboard and markers as they can be a great therapy tool!
I would highly recommend coming on this trip if you have the opportunity.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Enjoy every moment of this trip! It is an experience of a life time.
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Emily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Going to Belize for the two-week program was an amazing experience. The supervisors were nothing but nice, the food was delicious, and the hands-on experience I participated in was exciting. I loved how all of the meals and excursions were paid for and how we got to stay on an island for the last weekend in Belize. Working with the children both at NaRCIE and during home visits in Belize was a humbling experience. I would highly recommend this trip to all who love to travel and speech pathology!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I was so excited that we saw monkeys in the wild multiple times at the Mayan Temples!
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Alexis
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Therapy Abroad provided me with a once and a life time experience to not only travel the world but provide meaningful therapy to individuals who otherwise could not afford or access services.

This unique opportunity provided me with skills that can not be taught in a typical placement or classroom. Working in Belize required quick creative thinking, dynamic assessment, and thoughtful recommendations that were appropriate for the people we worked with. With limited WiFi access and materials, students were asked to get creative and utilize objects, screeners, and materials in new ways to obtain information (e.g., using an articulation picture screener as a tool to assess "wh"-questions). I also evaluated a range of disorders, syndromes, and deficits that I may not have worked with here in the US.

Some staff were wonderful to work with. Ellen was a great resource during our time in Monkey Bay. She was delightful, knowledgeable, and eager to help in any way she could. She made us feel safe and made my experience at Monkey Bay memorable. Tyrone was also a great wealth of knowledge and a great person to have around for the trip. We wished he could have been our driver for the entire trip.

It was a pleasure working with the community health workers (CHWs) and their work/experience in Belize. They were great translators when we needed them to act as such. One CHW said that she was learning a lot from us as we were learning from her. She came everyday happy and excited to work.

I had an amazing trip that was fun, educational, and at some points emotional. Home visits were the most emotionally taxing and most rewarding. Providing families with strategies and ways to support their children or loved ones was such an empowering experience.

I highly recommend this trip for students who want hands on experience, challenging clients/environments, and want to be a better report writer (because you write a lot of reports and you need to be through for the next clinician; no detail is too small or unimportant!).

What would you improve about this program?
There are several things I believe can be improved about the program. While in Belize, we were never such of exactly what we were walking into in terms of expectations (e.g., providing services or just providing education and support to Belize staff) or client disorders/deficits. This provided a great learning experience and is often unavoidable, however, the following suggestions for improvement are provided:

1) Providing a list of potential names and documentation previously submitted to Therapy Abroad (e.g., Evaluation reports and SOAP notes) a week prior to group arrival in Belize. As per parent report, several of the children I evaluated had already been seen by Therapy Abroad on separate occasions, however, I was not provided with other team's reports. It is unnecessary to preform evaluations on individuals who were already identified by Therapy Abroad has having a delay or disorder by other SLPs. My services would have been better utilized by providing these individuals with the treatment they need and dynamic assessment.

2) Client Intake forms. For some school districts or community placements, providing a client intake form might reduce the amount of referrals for non-speech/language concerns and give students an idea of what to assess for the children referred. This would also serve as a document to alert communities of our arrival. There was an instance where a school district was not aware we were coming and felt that the school procedures were being overlooked. Eden was present for this conversation with administrative staff, and the principle required that any documentation be pass on to the school so the relationship was mutually beneficial.

3) Documentation and Materials. Often, the Belize supervisory staff was unsure of the work expectations required of us at a placement. For example, if we were observing or treating individuals at a nursing home. We were directed to leave all therapy and evaluation materials at the hotel because either the expectation was uncertain and/or the placement had materials for us to use. Upon arriving to a placement, it was apparent that having our materials accessible would have been better than having nothing at all. In my personal opinion it is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared regardless of placement. Students should not be instructed to leave materials at the hotel but rather encouraged to bring them in the event they are able to conduct therapy/evaluations. The exception to this was the hospital visit with Ryan which was strictly just a tour of the facility and a learning experience for students.

4) Language used with students. During orientation and several times throughout the week at dinner time the language regarding adult beverages was infantilized. Although the program is considered to be a dry program, my group consisted of graduate students who were 24, 25, and 26 years old and can make appropriate decisions regarding drinking outside of the program. Students and supervisors (both from the college and the therapy abroad program) enjoyed a drink at dinner and reiteration of the policy of drinking was unnecessary at each dinner meal, orientation to the program was sufficient. Furthermore, there were inappropriate comments made by Belize supervising staff regarding religious affiliation of students. My college is not affiliated with any religion and a comment about the assumption that we would act as "good christian girls". This comment was not only unnecessary and inappropriate, it was offensive to those who do not practice Christianity.

5) Provide a translator that speaks Mayan. It's hard to do a speech-language evaluation on a child that only speaks Mayan and no translator. It's unethical on our end.

6) Provide an FM system for Belize staff. On the bus or on tours it was difficult to hear information that was provided by Belize supervisors, tour guides, and bus drivers about the history, culture, and additional information about Belize while traveling.