Erica Kiernan, DPT, MOT, OTR/L coordinated a volunteer service learning trip for OT, PT and MOPA students from the St. Augustine campus to Guatemala City, Guatemala August 18 – 25, 2012. The trip was arranged through Cross Cultural Solutions. Bonnie Decker, EdD, OTR/L also accompanied the group. During the experience, students and faculty were placed at different locations to work with individuals with special needs every morning. Dr. Kiernan and students Stephanie Sauer and Amy Hill went to an inpatient rehabilitation setting; Andrew Albright and Bailly Thompson visited a outpatient pediatric clinic; Stephanie Turner and Sarah Szymanski went to a home for elderly women; Dr. Decker went to a pediatric long-term care facility, and Christina Mollica and Heather Ritz went to several different locations in the city to work with medical staff. There were also five other people at the facility that came from other areas of the US. Above is a picture of the group posing in front of one of the many churches in Guatemala.
In the afternoons, the hosts at the facility took the group on different cultural excursions around the area. These excursions were intended to educate volunteers on the customs and history of the people of Guatemala. On Sunday, the group went to Antigua, the former capital of Guatemala, until it was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1700s.
On Monday evening, a local speaker came in and presented to the group on Mayan Culture, including the use of the now infamous Mayan calendar.
During the trip, the group went on a tour of the city of Guatemala. During the tour, the group visited the only cemetery in Guatemala City, a coffee plantation in Antigua and toured the Mayan museum, where they all made Mayan pottery. The group also got to climb one of the volcanoes!
As a perfect ending to the experience, the hosts had the group from USA paint their hands and put them on their wall to show that there are many hands that help everyone, which is pictured below. What a wonderful experience!