Shari Berkowitz says: Not all aspects of trips abroad to offer clinical services are fun and games. There are cultural differences and disconnects that can knock students off kilter. Here, Julianna very honestly tells about one of those moments…they usually come in the middle of the night, don’t they!
On the second night of our trip to Antigua, after having spent hours at the Care Project (a facility for children and some adults with severe mental and physical disabilities), I found myself lying in bed, hysterically crying, and texting my mother non-stop. My roommate Lauren was asleep, and though I tried my hardest to contain my emotions, I just could not seem to wrap my mind around the fact that some people in this world are forced to live under such heartbreaking conditions. Cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, and an incredibly hot pediatric ward were just few of the many things we saw which I had never been exposed to before. I prayed for the health of all the people from the facility, for their safety, and for their happiness. I prayed that a positive difference in their lives would be made soon. But then it hit me: I can make a difference. Especially when I am a certified speech language pathologist. My tears began to stop, and my headache eventually faded. Fortunately, my roommate didn’t wake during my mini-meltdown. Even if I am helping people like those from the Care Project with things like maintaining friendships or expressing their wants and needs, I know that what I can do can be great. Our trip to Antigua made me realize that my fellow Communication Disorders students and I are more powerful than I thought. I am so glad to have “kept my cool” while I was actually in the facility, and that my heart decided to get all emotional once I was back in the hotel. I can be a very sensitive person at times, but when I was in the center with Lauren and Dr. Berkowitz, I surprisingly did not crack. Rather I put a smile on and remained as calm as I could. I think that having Lauren and Dr. B there helped me tremendously, and I am forever thankful to them.