Hello! Bonjou, bonswa! My name is Stephanie Goodrich. I am here in Haiti to teach Neuroanatomy, a 4-week course for the second-year FSRL occupational and physical therapy students. At home in North Carolina, I work as an occupational therapist in acute and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. I first learned of FSRL when searching the internet for opportunities to travel overseas and serve with my occupational therapy education. And what a wonderful opportunity this is!
Every day, I am amazed by the dedication, intelligence, and focus of the FSRL students. Despite that my lectures, given in English and translated to French, are not in the students’ primary language (Haitian Creole), they maintain focus and absorb very challenging material. They are not afraid to ask questions (many, many questions!) to make sure that they fully understand. Even as new second-years, they constantly strive to make practical connections between what they are learning and how it pertains to disability and rehabilitation.
Over the past few weeks, when not teaching, I have also had the chance to observe some of the “behind-the-scenes” work of managing a new rehab university program in Haiti. Needless to say, there are many aspects of the program that need tending to on a daily basis, on top of all of the big-picture planning needed to keep the program going into the future. Dean Janet is a real-life Superwoman! It is plain to see how both how much the students respect her and why. I have also been blessed to spend some downtime with a few of the staff members, who have gone out of their way to help me feel at home and even teach me some Creole.
As it is with any short-term trip, I wish I could stay longer and do more, but I am so very thankful for the time I have been given at FSRL to get to know the students, to spend time with Dean Janet, to meet a few of the program’s other important contributors (Kate Barrett, Julie Booth, several other volunteer professors and students), and to be a small part of something incredible. FSRL will be in my prayers and in my heart, until I return again (and again and again, I hope!) and always thereafter.