Hello everyone! My name is Kara and I just completed my first year of graduate school at Harding University. I study communication sciences and disorders, aka speech pathology. It’s hard to believe, but in one short year I will be a certified speech therapist!
When I first began searching for graduate programs at the end of 2017, I was immediately impressed with Harding’s extensive international and cultural opportunities. I read that the large majority of their undergraduate students study abroad, but I was excited to learn that their graduate programs also provided students with the chance to study in other countries. Before Harding even accepted me into their masters program, I had my fingers crossed, hoping to be offered this opportunity to study in Namwianga, Zambia.
Last semester (Fall 2018), Mr. Chance began asking about who from our cohort would be interested in the summer’s clinical practicum at The Haven. My husband, Brett, knew that I had been planning on going ever since I found out I was accepted to the program at the end of February, so I signed up without any hesitation. (I’d like to give a special shout-out to Brett right now because he has been so encouraging and supportive about me leaving for 6 weeks, knowing this is something that I’ve been looking forward to for well over a year now…thank you, honey!)
When more details about the trip started to unfold, I knew that I was going to have to ask for help in raising the money to go. I created a page on GoFundMe and was amazed with the responses and donations that flooded my account. Without everyone’s help, I can honestly say that I would not be able to afford this practicum. Well, that or I would go and Brett would be living on the streets when I returned. That being said, THANK YOU to everyone who gifted me this opportunity to study abroad. It is appreciated so much more than you know… SO MUCH.
In addition to the fundraiser, my mom and I wanted to donate our hair before I left. We allowed donors to vote on whether my mom would “save it” and only donate the minimum 8 inches or “shave it” meaning buzz it all and donate every ringlet of her curly locks. After 4 months of voting (January – April), “save it” prevailed and she donated 8 inches to Wigs for Kids. I was also able to donate and gave 11 inches to the same organization.
There are 9 of my classmates going with me to Zambia! We’ve had scheduled meetings to review vaccination requirements, rooming situations, cultural differences, and many other important details that helped us to prepare for this trip. We recently received our individual kits full of tools to help with feedings, sensory integration, oral motor strengthening, oral stretching exercises, and ways to help the babies develop a number of feeding skills. This past semester, we had a pediatric feeding class where we learned about how to treat preemies and the rest of the pediatric population using these various techniques. I can’t believe I will be able to practice on real babies in a few days!!
Packing is in progress. I should have plenty of room to bring everything I need. We are allowed a carry on, a personal bag, and two checked bags under 50 lbs. One checked bag will be packed with donations for The Haven (diapers, scrub tops for the aunties (caregivers), baby clothes, etc.) and the rest is for whatever I want to bring. We are to wear long skirts while we are there so I did pick up a few from Goodwill. The dry season (their “winter”) just began in Zambia so we should have really nice weather while we are there. I was told to expect temperatures around the 70s during the day and then chilly nights when I will want a sweatshirt. I still need to decide what to pack as my “coming home” outfit. Students who previously went to The Haven have suggested we pack an outfit in a Ziploc bag with a dryer sheet. That way, when I come home, I’ll be able to hug Brett without smelling like a zebra.
Now that all of our questions have been answered and our legal documentation is up-to-date, we are pretty much ready to go! Thanks to Mr. Chance and Mrs. Vendetti helping us organize all of our papers and travel necessities, all we have left to do is get there!