I felt like a child on the first day of school. I woke up at 5:30 am ready to go. Sadly we did not start until 8 am so I did some personal reading and even reviewed some of my slides to make sure they were correct. After a traditional Haitian breakfast I made the walk over to the school to start the day.
Myself and the physiotherapy class:
At 7:55 am all of the students were in the commons of the school lined up. I learned that like in America they respect the flag before school starts. The entire school sang the anthem as the flag slowly ascended to the top. The passion in each students eyes and voices as they sang was so strong. I got chills on my arms as the song concluded and each student rushed into their classroom. I would expect this in grade school, but to see 20-40 year old adults doing this shows how much this country means to them.
I prepared 6 lectures for the day and knew it would be a long day for them. I started by getting to know the 7 students who are 4th year physiotherapy students. They have made it so far and I could tell from the first few minutes that they were all hard workers. After setting the objectives and going over the syllabus I started us with an icebreaker. I asked two very deep questions alongside the basics to help get to know them better. The first question was “what is your biggest fear” and the second was “if you won the lottery what are the first three things you would do”. I was very impressed with their answers and learned a lot more about their culture and emphasis on community.
During the first half of the morning we focused on Clinical Reasoning and reviewing concepts from the foundational courses. They have retained a lot of the content which made the conversation much more interactive.
After lunch we worked on expanding hypothesis generation to improve creating differential diagnosis lists. I learned that as an education system, the Haitian students have very strong memorization skills as this is the main learning style they are taught. They struggle with more abstract thinking and application of knowledge. These students in the physio program have been working hard on these concepts and I can tell they are beginning to learn this skill and will improve it as the year continues.
I was very impressed with their conversation about clinical experiences. Many of the students expressed that the way of thinking they have been learning in this physiotherapy curriculum is very different than how clinicians in the country are practicing. They were excited to apply all of the knowledge they have learned prior to the rotation, but felt many of the therapists were not doing thorough assessments and still using very outdated treatment styles. It was so inspiring to see motivated therapists who want to improve the profession and challange the status quo of current practice. I hope that this week only adds wood to that fire.
After class I shot the basketball around on the outdoor court near the campus. One of the students saw me and we played a little one-on-one. Not playing ball in over a year and being in 90 degree heat left me exhausted by the end.
Chicken, rice, and fresh vegetables was a great end to the night.
I spent the night working on some of the lectures and self reflecting. I have a long way to go with my skills as an educator but after doing it for 8 hours straight I can say I love it!
—If you would like to follow Kyle’s Blog while in Haiti go to: https://mobilizetheworldpt.blogspot.com/2018/10/travel-day-and-exploration.html