In a few days time, nine 3rd year Bachelor of Speech Pathology students (including myself) and four 4th year mentors will be jetting off to Bangkok, Thailand, for a three week placement, working in a government centre for children and adolescents with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and autism. You might be wondering how can we ‘do’ speech pathology if we cannot speak Thai fluently? To be honest, the details of this placement are still something I am considering myself, but there are definitely many ways we can help by partnering with the local staff to support feeding and communication more generally.
This is the first time Flinders Speech Pathology students have been on a placement to this location, as until last year they visited India. As the departure date gets closer and closer, I am thinking more about the importance of having an open mindset and being prepared for possible cultural differences, e.g. in attitudes regarding disability or practices in healthcare. I expect we will rely on each other also to bounce off ideas and remember to enjoy the experience!
Personally there are countless things I am excited for on this trip, but one in particular is the delicious food, hopefully my admittedly meager tolerance for spice will improve! There will be opportunities for sightseeing in our free time too, so it will be incredible to see and experience elements of Thailand’s rich history and culture, such as ancient temples and busy night markets. We are staying in a suburban area just out of the heart of Bangkok, seeing a side of daily life outside of the normal tourist track. This is one of the reasons that the placement appealed to me, as we could really immerse ourselves despite the short time frame. It is truly a valuable experience to go through as student clinicians, in such a different environment, learning to use challenging situations as opportunities for learning and development. I am looking forward to arriving and finding out more!!
Jennifer Custance, Bachelor of Speech Pathology student, participated in the Speech Pathology placement in Thailand in September 2017