Student Site Placements
The Service-Learning students of Spring 2015 share their impressions of their first week at their internship site!
Fundación Cuidado Infantil Dominicano
Tanaé Copeland, Wofford College
This semester I will be working with Fundación Cuidado Infantil Dominicano (Dominican Child Care Foundation) or FCID. During my first few weeks of the internship I have learned so much about how children with disabilities are perceived and educated in the DR. My first week was spent making home visits with a health promoter. We visited families enrolled in the program and worked with the families to bring therapies to their children with disabilities. In the futures, I want to work with children but I think it's going to be very difficult. I was able to observe how families with limitied resources have difficulties providing their child with the resources required for them to be successful individuals in their own capacity. It was during these visits and talks with the health promoters that I was able to come to some ideas about my research investigation project. Initially I didn’t know much about the organization but I know a lot about how child development works and the significance of advocating for children with disabilities. Throughout the first day I went to the community with a community health promoter named Rosana. Rosana is a promatora who has worked with the organization for about seven years. She works with two boys and a girl. That day we worked with a child who was about five years old. He has a physically disability and does not have full use of his legs. Rosana developed a therapy for the family to do with their child every day. She creates thearpys that are developed by FCID and are also conducive to the resources and education levels of the family. For example, the mother of the child puts a ball or weight in front of the child and the child had to crawl by using his legs to put weight. While there, I noticed conditions of the house. The house was very small and affected the child during therapy.
After my first weeks of observations I have a good idea of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and areas of improvements for FCID. With these observations I can start to develop my research question and overall investigation. Whether it is how the home environment affects the progression of therapy or the inclusion of children with disabilities in a public school I know that I’ll be assisting FCID with their overall goals. . After I could see the conditions of the houses, I think I want to do my capstone on how conditions affect the ability of children to learn to work with their disabilities. Now, I'm going to focus on children with disabilities because there are a large part of the organization. I want to know how children and their families feel about the organization and the help they receive. Children with disabilities are more important than everything and as an advocate for them, I have to make sure that children are can receive the best treatment to live a good life.
Hospital Juan XXIII
Dionne McKenzie, Georgia Institute of Technology
My first week in the community was very revealing of the work I will be doing with Hopital Juan XXIII (a public hospital in Santiago). I learned a lot about the work of my supervisor, Dinora, and her position as a promoter for Juan XXIII. I also learned what my roles and reposibilities will be in the organization and the community durning my semester as a Service-Learning student. On the first day, Dinora asked me if I had any idea what I wanted to focus my research in the community; she made it clear that my Capstone would be totally my idea and one that seemed significant to me and Cristo Rey Abajo. The few ideas I had resulted from my experience in the boarder town of Resturación. There I observed that diabetes, hypertension, diarrhea, certain types of fungus, scabies, and deafness is very common. However, in thinking about what Public Health issue to focus my research on I knew I did not want to design an investigation around diabetes or hypertension. Both of these chronic diseases are highly researched. So I told Dianora that I have an interest in studying deafness because as a bio-engineering major I would hope to investigate this issue further and eventually being able to work in the production of an affordable technology that can be utilized to better deafness. Then, we went to an area below the bridge of a street close to Juan XXIII. During my first few weeks of observations I didn’t mean any deaf individuals.
The next few days I worked on my first week were equally fulfilling. On Tuesday I spent half my time in the community clinic and ran into other students in the community. The students were from PUCMM (the university where I am studying) who needed to complete their community service and chose to do so by completing health records for Juan XXIII. However, this time Dinora told me that next time I will explain the process of how to fill out these records to the students to students. So, I quickly took copious notes to explain to students the next time they were doing work in the community. Then we went to Cristo Rey Abajo by first time and I had a tour of the community.
On Thursday, I spent most of my time in the community clinic, and only the end of my shift in the community. In the clinic I watched the nurses and promoters in action in the workplace. It was very interesting to me that the atmosphere was very laid back and slightly informal. I even saw a dog walking around the office. In addition, most patients did not need for identification to be treated. However, I ended my day visiting the community and talking to some families on general subjects, not necessarily your health. Also, we went to a small gathering in respect of a family who had recently lost a limb. This experience was particularly poignant for me because all the people were very welcoming to Dinora and myself.
Considering everything that happened in my first week, I experienced a lot of important situations I learned a lot about the Dominican culture. First, I learned that a large proportion of patients in the community clinic know the staff very well, which makes me think that the community is very close and comfortable with each other (especially physicians and staff, which is the key a successful patient experience). Another interesting observation is that some schools require their students to complete community service to graduate. Dinora told me it's not very common throughout the year, but sometimes it is beneficial to the community when there are volunteers. So I have yet to fill out a health record form, but I learned a lot about the community in other ways. Another amazing observation that had not occurred to me before my first week of work in the organization is that the little community clinic is the place where all kinds of health concerns are treated to the community. Anything from prenatal care to care to geriatric planning is handled in this small center. This fact alone shows the importance that Juan XXIII has to this community. Poor people in the city do not have access to specialists or expensive care; their welfare depends entirely on the resources that are able to get Juan XXIII and its partner organizations.
I will largely reflect this experience while I'm trying to decide on three possible research topics. This first week has helped me justify my reasoning for wanting to focus my research on socio-economic factors that affect mental wellbeing because mental health is a area that does not receive much support in developing countries in Latin America. Discrimination and exclusion of this population in addition to the many problems that they face and live in poverty are very evident. In addition, there are always people with less severe mental disorders who struggle to live a quality life without being alienated; however, these conditions may worsen without treatment or appropriate care. I will keep an open mind and consider what is needed is not available when I decide on my other two possible research topics.