UnBelizable SLP Work!

Yes, I know..the pun is corny. But hey, gotta switch things up sometimes 😉

Belize is a beautifully diverse country of unique cultures and traditions, rich languages, delicious food, raw nature, and so much more! Though English is considered the official language of Belize spoken by 62.9% of the population, Spanish (56.6%) and Kriol (44.6%) are the next most spoken languages followed by indigenous Mayan langauges and Garifuna, a language influenced by Carib, French, and Spanish. Even cooler, most of the population is multilingual!!! This makes the prospect of speech and language service provision an exciting one with the opportunity to provide services in English for several families. However, it also presents a challenge when considering and maintaining cultural sensitivity in evaluation and treatment. For example, when assessing a child and asking them to identify pictures, they may not know what a snowman is simply because they live in a country that doesn’t have snow and therefore they’ve never been exposed to this concept.

Now let’s talk about the need for SLPs! Presently, one full-time ASHA certified clinician provides bilingual English-Spanish services at The Inspiration Center, the first clinic in Belize to provide medical and therapeutic services which was established by the First Lady of Belize in 2014. However, this is not an easy task for one clinician alone! As awareness grows and the need increases in Belize, there is lack of access to services due to limited trained providers available, especially in small villages where access to transportation is a challenge.

Therapy Abroad, an organization providing undergrad and graduate students the opportunity to gain hands-on clinical experience abroad under the supervision of licensed therapists, has recently created a strong presence in Belize bringing students and licensed clinicians over for 2-week periods to help fill this need. This past summer, a total of 17 groups provided speech and language screenings, evaluations, and intervention in cities and villages across the country!

Read more about the Therapy Abroad experience through blog posts recalling my own experience as the Team Leader for TA’s first undergraduate programs during summer 2017!

Work and Volunteer Opportunities in Belize:

The Inspiration Center is currently seeking long-term volunteers for the speech department who are licensed, Clinical Fellows (that’s right, you can do your CFY abroad!), or qualified SLPAs.

Therapy Abroad is currently accepting applications for 2020 student programs (SLP/OT/PT). Also hiring licensed clinicians to provide supervision for student programs and new grads/clinicians who are interested in being a Team Leader for student groups! TA also offers volunteer programs for professfinal SLPs, OT, PTs, Music Therapists and more!

Helping Hands— Though not a clear-cut SLP opportunity, Helping Hands is an exceptitonal program established by the one and only Miss Emily, a proud Garifuna woman who is the true heart and soul of Belize! She created Helping Hands out of her own home and has now developed the resources and space for a summer camp and afterschool program which provides tutoring, Garifuna culture classes, free WiFi and more! WOW right! She’s always thrilled to welcome new volunteers who are eager to bring their own knowledge and skills to the table and many of her studens have been identified as having speech and language needs (hint hint, you’d be an asset to her program!). Email: emilypmartinez@yahoo.com to find out moreabout ways you can help!

Work Visa

If you are a resident of the US, UK, Canada, EU, Caribbean or Central American countries, Belize allows you to remain in the country for 1 month with your passport only. You can renew this 30 day visa at the local immigration office. If you plan to stay longer and work/get paid, you will need to obtain a work visa and are only eligible for this permit after residing in Belize for 6 months.

Happy travels!

-Kristin AmRhein, M.S., CCC-SLP

Follow @slpoverseas on Instagran for more fun travel SLP posts and speech and feeding therapy ideas!

SLP in Dubai

Ever thought about working in one of the most multi-cultural, ultramodern, and architecturally innovative cities in the world?!

Well Dubai is calling for youu!!!

Careers

Dubai’s speech, language, and feeding services are growing! This is not an exhaustive list of centers which provide SLP services. Check out the job opportunities available and how to apply by visiting their website:

Kids First Medical Center

The Developing Child Center

Child Early Intervention Medical Center

Inspire Therapy

Sensation Station

Al Noor Training Center Email HR for career opportunities at hr@alnoorspneeds.ae

Visit Learning Support Clinics for Children for a full list of clinics in Dubai

Indeed provides job listings for SLP positions.

Licensure

To learn more about how to apply for your Dubai Health Authority (DHA) license, click here.

Requirements for licensure:
1. You must be fully licensed in your home country.
2. If you hold a BSc in Speech and Language Therapy, you must have 2 years of experience to qualify for work in Dubai.
3. If you hold a Master’s in Speech and Language Therapy, you must have 1 year of experience to qualify for work in Dubai.
4. Employee’s visa should be approved and provided by the company following a job offer.

Lifestyle

Learn more about what it’s like to work in Dubai from an international SLP herself in this blog post written by Sarah Wu, CCC-SLP and featuring Aalia Thobani, CCC-SLP, the Director of Therapies at The Developing Child Centre in Dubai.

SLP in China

7 Dialects

Numerous Subdialects

1000 SLPs to a population of 1.3 BILLION!

Talk about a packed schedule! The field of Speech-Language Pathology is relatively new in China having only started services in the 1980s for select language disorders and dysphagia. Historically, the majority of service providers have only received a few courses focused on speech therapy within their studies of general rehabilitation as well as on-the-job training. Due to the lack of specially-trained SLPs, several providers tend to be physicians, nurses, or OTs. Additionally, the amount of dialects and subdialects in China makes it significantly more challenging to provide appropriate intervention to clients. (See ASHA Blog: Speech-Language Pathology in China: Challenges and Opportunities for full article describing speech pathology in China since 2011).

Gains have been made recently with the start of the first accredited speech pathology program created in 2014 with the support of the University of Hawaii at Kunming Medical University (KMU) located in southwestern China. Hopefully, with the installation of this established Bachelor’s program, other academic programs providing courses in SLP will be further developed, China will see a rise in well-trained and qualified SLPs, and service delivery models will be improved.

Professional Organization

Chinese International Speech-Language and Hearing Association (CISHA).

Professional Opportunities

Interested in working as part of a multi-disciplinary team in China? Here are a few organizations that welcome internationally trained and English-speaking SLPs (Madarin speaking therapists are always a plus!)

LIH Olivia’s Place:

Consulting therapists from all disciplines for Olivia’s Place are located in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen with their main site located in Shanghai. Professional development opportunities are also offered through seminars and trainings!

For more information regarding work and volunteer opportunities, email career@lih-oliviasplace.com

Essential Learning Group (ELG)

Also located in Shanghai, ChinaELG offers competitive salaries and good vacation time for international staff. PLUS they will support clinicians with work visas!

Visit their website for more information about job openings and send your resume and cover letter to careers@chinaelg.com.

ChinaELG also offers parent support groups and provides workshops for educators and professionals working with children to better support speech and language challenges.

Orient Speech Therapy Center (China) (OST) is a legal entity of Hong Kong with nearly 20 centers in cities of China including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. In addition to providing skilled intervention, OST also offers training programs for providers to further develop clinical skills.

Know of any other professional or educational opportunities in China? Share them with me to be featured on this page!

Family Fun Day

The Inspiration Center celebrated its 5th Annual Family Fun Day on August 18th and Therapy Abroad was excited to be a part of the action! A group of around 50 kiddos joined in on the fun day as they traveled through different stations including the photo booth, sensory play and the water station (my personal favorite)! The group of attendees included the speech and physical therapy clients who are seen at The Inspiration Center along with their siblings and caregivers. It was eye-opening to realize that the clients we saw at Family Fun Day were only a fraction of those who receive services from the sole SLP and PT at The Inspiration Center.

The ladies of group 3 had the best time playing with the kids all day– some of our campers from the current and previous Communication Camp groups were there too!

photobooth
Classic Photo Booth pic with the ladies of Group 3 before our day of FUNNNN got started ❤

The best part about Family Fun Day was seeing the children take part in and enjoy every activity no matter what physical challenges or communication needs they presented with. It just goes to show that every child has the ability to embrace the same experiences in life and that disability is only reflected in the obstacles we allow to get in the way of success for every child. When we open our eyes and find ways to overcome these barriers is when we realize the potential of every child and their ability to grow and learn.

Your SLP Overseas,
-Kristin AmRhein

Biola Ladies in Belize!

Week 1 with our second group of Therapy Abroad students from Biola University featured a new group of campers and fresh ideas for Communication Camp at The Inspiration Center, a trip to a local school to carry-out speech and language screenings, and some fun team outings!

Communication Camp

We spent the first half of the week getting to know our new kiddos attending Communication Camp! For more info about the therapy program we run at The Inspiration Center, check out this previous blog post. Here are some highlights from our stations: Fine motor, story time, basic concepts, behavior regulation, gross motor, snack and pretend play!

School Visit

At the end of the week, we switched things up and made a visit to a local school in Cayo District where we screened several kids with an array of speech and language needs including cleft palate and language delay. Some kids just stopped by to say hi and hang out with us as we finished our screenings 🙂

Team Fun Days and a trip to the Blue Hole

The crew had a competitive few days at our home base, Monkey Bay, with a field day complete with bucket baseball (where ya get a refreshing bucket of water on your head following a strike out or caught fly ball) and a social media scavenger hunt consisting of 10 challenges around the campsite that had to be completed with photo/video evidence posted to instagram before time ran out! After all our hard working days and competitive nights, we ended the week with a cool down in the emerald green water of Blue Hole National Park!

Your SLP Overseas,

Kristin AmRhein
Team Leader
Therapy Abroad

And we’re back!

Therapy Abroad– Group 2, Day 1 (Sunday, 7/30)

After a mini hiatus, Therapy Abroad is back to work in Belize with a new group of students, all from Biola university, and some new staff too! I am thrilled to be the Team Leader for this crew and looking forward to meeting all the new kiddos we will work with for the next two weeks!

We kicked off our first day with a trek through the pine savannah of Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary where we will stay for the next 2 weeks. After a rather toasty and humid walk, we took a refreshing dip in the river (something we didn’t get to do with the last group due to inclement weather conditions). Luckily no one fell asleep on us and floated away out of exhaustion from their red-eye flight 😉

Tuesday is day one of Communication Camp and the girls have been hard at work building resources for our new group of Pirate Campers! Stay tuned for updates on all our clinical and cultural adventures in Belize!

Your SLP Overseas,

Kristin
Team Leader
Therapy Abroad

Island Vibes

Days 11&12

After a week and a half of meaningful hard work, the Therapy Abroad team hopped on a boat and cruised to Caye Caulker. The emerald green waters of the island were all too inviting as we made our way to our hotel, La Isla Resort.

20170715_180016
View from the La Isla’s beach front

Before diving into the island fun, we made a visit to a local elementary school that is unique in every way imaginable when compared to the typical Belizean schools. Founded by Dr. Alberto Luis August, La Isla Cariñosa Academy was developed out of a need to change the standards of education in Belize. Born and raised in Caye Caulker, Dr. August obtained his PhD in Education from the University of North Florida. Following his worldly travels, he was inspired to incorporate the educational values found in schools of developed countries into schools of Belize. Principal August and his wife, Valerie August, Vice Principal of the private school, shared with us the typical conditions of schools in Belize—no AC in a stuffy classroom despite humid 90* heat, teachers lacking higher education and managing a class of 30 students independently, corporal punishment inflicted on children who misbehave, and no alternative teaching strategies integrated into the curriculum for a child with learning difficulties or special needs. Worried for their own daughter’s education, they created a school with an environment that is conducive to learning and caters to the needs of individual students.

 

La Isla Cariñosa Academy is the only inclusion school in Belize which supports the needs of students with Autism, language impairments and learning difficulties. Each classroom is limited to 15 students and is equipped with AC and windows for natural sunlight. Positive reinforcement is emphasized and corporal punishment is non-existent. You can find educational artwork painted on the walls of the school and a recreational yard used for recess. Principal August plans to further develop the school’s campus and construction for a rooftop playground is underway. Therapy Abroad is excited to build their relationship with the innovative couple and work as a team to support Dr. and Mrs. August in identifying students with speech and language needs and providing training and support within the classroom environment.

20170713_105500
Dr. and Mrs. August, founders of this exemplary private school

After the visit to the exemplary school, it was time for our vacation to officially begin! We took to the sea where we snorkeled alongside the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world and even swam with sharks!

 

Day 13—Our Last Night Together

After 2 relaxing nights on the island of Caye Caulker, we headed back for one last evening at Monkey Bay. After dinner, we danced around the campfire to traditional Creole drumming and learned some new moves!

 

And just like that, group 1’s time in Belize has come to an end. Crazy to think that in just two weeks, a group of students and staff who knew nothing about each other could form such strong bonds and lasting relationships by the end of the trip! We worked together–we lived together–we played together–we killed bugs together. But most importantly, as a team, we raised awareness of speech, language and feeding therapy in a country where special needs and disability is stigmatized and poorly understood. Together we collaborated with local professionals to expand the current services provided to support our clients and their families and in the process we grew as individuals and clinicians.

To all those students and staff who were part of Therapy Abroad’s first group, well done! I am proud to have been your Team Leader and already miss everyone! Same time next year?!

20170712_135242
That’s a wrap with Therapy Abroad’s first group in Belize!

I am looking forward to working with the next two groups and seeing the new ideas they bring to Communication Camp and the entire experience in Belize this August!

Until then, it’s back to NYC for the next 2 weeks for a little summer fun and R&R!

Stay tuned for our Belizean adventures in August!

Your SLP Overseas,

Kristin AmRhein, M.S. CCC-SLP
Team Leader
Therapy Abroad

Therapy Abroad–Week 2 at the Inspiration Center

Days 9-11

Therapy Abroad kicked off week 2 in Belize at the Inspiration Center. Our last week of Communication Camp was even better than the first. The blossoming student SLPs took charge and found ways to improve the activities from week 1 in order to elicit more language from the Pirate Campers while managing behavior and having fun!

The students also had another opportunity to make home visits through the Inspiration Center’s Community Based Rehab program. They played with the kiddos and observed Therapy Abroad’s SLP, Mollie Mindel, in the field as she worked one-on-one with caregivers and Inga, social worker at the Inspiration Center.

Our last day at the Inspiration Center was a fun one…but also pretty emotional for some of our Pirate Campers when they realized camp was ending 😦

After a week and a half of hard and meaningful work in Belize, it’s time for some well-deserved island time! Next stop– Caye Caulker!

Kristin AmRhein, M.S. CCC-SLP
Team Leader
Therapy Abroad

Belizean Weekend Adventures

This weekend the Therapy Abroad crew took a break from work the great outdoors of Belize! I will let the pictures tell the story…

Saturday, 7/8

Saturday was spent ziplining through the jungle and tubing through caves filled with stalagmites and stalactites. We had some interesting encounters along the way….

Ziplining

Cave Tubing

Sunday, 7/9

On Sunday, we explored the ancient Mayan ruins of Xunantunich! Though the temples are over 3000 years old, the site was only discovered in the 1800s and unearthed in the 1920s. It continues to be excavated today. From the top of the temple we could see the gorgeous landscape of not only Belize, but Guatemala too!

With an action packed first weekend in the books, it’s time to get back into work mode and prepare for group 1’s last week of Communication Camp at the Inspiration Center before heading out to the islands for some rest and relaxation!

Until next time,

Kristin AmRhein, M.S. CCC-SLP
Team Leader
Therapy Abroad

Belmopan and the Jungle (Day 6)

Today, the Therapy Abroad team made a trip into Belmopan, the capital of Belize. Our first stop was a visit to Helping Hands, an educational resource center created by Miss Emily to support the learning needs of Belizean students. During the visit, she told us about the challenges students of all ages face to receive a good education in Belize. She shared with us that many students in Belize do not continue on to high school and some even discontinue their education after elementary school. Several cultural and economic factors influence this decision and Miss Emily’s mission is to provide free educational support at Helping Hands. Furthermore, she aims to unlock the learning potential of all students she works with by improving their literacy skills and encouraging them to think about their future selves and what they aspire to be when they grow up in the hopes that they will continue to seek out a good education as they get older.

As a proud Garifuna woman, Miss Emily shared about the origins of her people and their presence in Belize then sang a song in the Garifuna language. After bringing tears to our eyes with her passion for education and her culture, she took us to meet the children who were attending the summer tutoring program she set up for those who were identified as falling behind in school. The Therapy Abroad students and staff broke into small groups with the kids based on their age and academic levels. We spent the next hour or so getting to know our kiddos and eliciting language opportunities through the interests of each individual child. We met kids who love singing, pretending, writing and drawing. We met young students who aspire to become teachers and the older students shared their dreams of becoming a lawyer in the future to support their families. Two things all of these children had in common—enthusiasm to learn and lots of love to give!

In the afternoon, we took a trip to a local market where we explored the fruits and goods, ate some local grub, and took a much needed coffee break!

Dinner at Jungle Creek

After some afternoon R&R, we headed to Jungle Creek for a dinner with Pathlight, an organization who’s mission is to ensure that secondary education is made accessible to all children in Belize. As previously mentioned, many children do not go on to continue their high school education because unlike elementary years, high school is not free and many families cannot afford to send their children to school. As a result, Pathlight setup a program called Sponsorship+ which allows individuals to sponsor a child by providing monthly financial support to cover fees such as tuition, transportation, school supplies, tutoring and so on. To fully sponsor a child costs $200/month.

Pathlight also provides teacher training to local teachers to build on their own education and teaching strategies. This July, Pathlight will hold their annual Teacher Training Conference and Therapy Abroad’s SLPs and Behavior Therapist will attend to provide education and training in these specialties.

During our dinner we had the opportunity to meet 3 Pathlight students who are being sponsored by the Therapy Abroad team!

That wraps up week 1! Time for some weekend fun exploring Mayan ruins, cave tubing and ziplining!

Kristin AmRhein, M.S. CCC-SLP
Team Leader
Therapy Abroad