On 1/19/11 we left the hotel at 6:45 a.m. to travel an hour on the high speed train to Hangzhao, China. The train traveled at speeds up to 400 km/hr. The purpose of our journey to Hangzhao was for the opportunity to visit the Operation Smile Hospital, a charity hospital that performs cleft palate and cleft lip surgery on children free of charge. They also perform dental services and provide pre and post operative speech-therapy for their clients.
We started the day observing speech therapy and providing therapy tips for the new speech therapist there. She had only had a few weeks worth of training in Indian before practicing therapy, prior to that she was a pre and post op. nurse at the hospital.
After that we watched two videos regarding the hospital’s mission trips. This is where the Operation Smile team goes to rural China and perform cleft palate and cleft lip surgery and provide speech therapy services. This video made us all tear up a bit! It was very amazing to see what they do for their patients.
Then… we got to scrub-in and watch three surgeries being performed in the operating room! This was an amazing experience too. The surgeries take about an hour and they usually perform 10 per day.
After this we enjoyed lunch in the employee lunch room. They treated us to “real Chinese” cuisine. (e.g., Megan found out that she was indeed eating squid and Julie went to grab a piece of meat with her chop sticks which ended up being a chicken CLAW! I’m soo happy I ended up getting the eggplant dish, at least that’s what I think it was anyway…
After lunch Julie and I gave a presentation regarding speech therapy for the cleft palate client and Karolina and Megan presented about how to treat phonological disorders. Considering that we were presenting to the majority of the doctors in the hospital this was pretty overwhelming, but I think it went well.
Overall it was an amazing experience and it was definitely worth the lack of sleep and two train rides. They were also trying to recruit people to do a mission trip. I think that’s right up my alley, as well as my other classmates on this trip. I think I may have found my new charitable calling! I hope to do a mission trip for Operation Smile and provide speech therapy for one of their missions within the next five years!
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more information on our travels in China!
Yesterday, we had the opportunity to observe traditional Chinese therapy… and participate!
In the morning we were taken to a Chinese hospital that provides care for common ailments, just as you would see in America; except this particular hospital had a very unique third floor…
We began smelling burning plants before we even exited the stairwell. We were introduced to who seemed to be the only doctor that spoke English, who is currently a student in the 6 year acupuncture program. After brief introductions he began showing us around.
We saw various rooms used for physical, occupational, and stimulation therapies. We watched a world champion Tae Kwon Do doctor use various stances and movements for exercise and stretching, and we observed a Chinese medicine doctor write a prescription for a stomach ailment. We were told the medicine is an intricately designed combination of plants, roots, and herbs. Finally, we were directed to enter a room with smoke billowing out the door…
The smell was initially overwhelming, but we acclimated fairly quickly. It was a simple room with several cubicle-like structures with curtains. Multiple doctors were entering and exiting rooms, carrying acupuncture needles and boxes of flames. We first observed a patient receiving acupuncture, then we watched what they refer to as “bleeding” and “cupping.” They use a needle to cause the patient to bleed out in various areas of the body, depending on the ailment. A cup is then heated on the inside and placed over the lesion. This creates a suction effect, drawing the “diseased” blood out of the area. Not our favorite part of the day to say the least, but this is when the real fun began…
We were all asked about our personal ailments and the doctor promised that acupuncture would take care of all of them… and eventually it was decided I would be the guinea pig.
I was brought into a more private room with a doctor who didn’t speak English, but who was told to provide a treatment that would improve the circulation in my legs. I was motioned to lie down on the bed as they assessed the best placement of the acupuncture needles. Nothing more reassuring than a pair of doctors standing over you speaking in Chinese about a treatment we know nothing about…
The doctor inserted the needles into my legs; one on each side of my shins right below my knees, one on each side of my lower legs, and one in each ankle. Thinking I was done, they positioned my hands on my chest… before I knew it they had put 3 more needles in my hands between my finger and thumb.
I did not feel any pain as the needles were inserted, but he adjusted the ones around my knee until I felt a shock travel down my leg and into my foot. Once I was set, they turned on two heat lamps to heat the needles and let me marinate for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, the doctor left the room… just to come back with his personal camera… Of course!
I felt immediate relief from my pain as soon as I stood up after the needles were removed. The feeling was strange, almost as if my legs were floating… without any pain.
It made all of us wonder how long the effects would last, or how often I would have to go to maintain the painless feeling. By dinner I felt some aching return to my legs, but because my pain is always unpredictable, I guess we will never know the actual effects of old Chinese medicine!
VIDEO!!! Watch me too! Are We There Yet?
Adventure 1 - Beijing: On our night out on New Years Eve, our wonderful hotel called a cab for us and told them where our destination was. It was a smooth ride on the way down and it was a great dinner and night together with some new found friends from California, Canada, and England to ring in the new year. On the way home, however, it was up to us to get back to our hotel, with the hotel business card in hand we hailed a cab who agreed to take us home for 50Yuan total (aka $7.50 American dollars) … (video to come)
Adventure 2 – Shanghai: Our first Friday night by ourselves in Shanghai and we decided to check out a hang out recommended by the clinic staff. We looked it up online and found the address, had the hotel write it in Chinese for us, and we were headed out with high confidence…that is until our cabbie seemed lost and dropped us off outside a gated building. Looking like the lost crazy Americans that we were and every shop around us being closed; we crossed the street to the Ritz and needless to say our hotel is nothing like that one…we even got lost inside the hotel…but the concierge kindly printed the correct address and sent us on our way. At the end of the night a cabbie waiting outside the place took us all the way home….success!
Adventure 3 - Shanghai: After success with the cabs, we set out Saturday after researching the Shanghai Wildlife Park and getting directions from the site. We decided to tackle the subway for the first time! As the picture shows…we were working off of notes written in a notebook…reliable! We found where we thought we were located, pushed a lady away as she tried to cut us in line at the kiosk buying tickets, and 10 minutes later walked away with our tickets. We headed to the gate…and crossed the platform 8 times before we decided which direction to head. This caused an English speaking Chinese man to ask if we needed help. He told us we were going the correct direction but informed us that we were going 11 stops, not the 3 we thought…oops who knew? We got off and he directed us to our transfer line and made Megan pronouce the name of the final stop 20 times before he gave up on her and assumed we’d get it…and we did!! We counted the stops and successfully got to our stop and met up with Liz’s friend Mark who speaks Chinese!! We had the name of the bus line we needed to get on and when Mark asked a man which one it was, he also informed us our bus ride would take another hour and a half…and after leaving the hotel after 1pm and already traveling for 2 hours…we headed back to People’s Square instead! We explored and got back on the subway all the way back to the hotel stop…success again! (except we didn’t see the pandas)
Adventure 4 – Shanghai: No pandas on Saturday…so try again on Sunday! Julie did more research and found an alternate route with another long bus ride leaving 3 subway stops from ours. The hotel wrote the name of the park in Chinese and we set out again. Three stops later we emerged from the subway…clueless. No bus stop in sight. Karolina pulled out the Chinese translation book and found “where” and “bus,” and we were directed and made it to the bus entrance…clueless. We found “tickets” in the book and showed the final destination and “tickets” to a security gaurd and he pointed and held up 4 fingers…still not sure what that was for. We walked up to a random bus and around the random bus, still clueless. A lady laughed at us but her, the driver, and some gaurd told us to get on the bus. We did, and when she collected money for the bus, the lady found an English speaking woman who told us which stop we needed to transfer…wait, transfer? This bus isn’t going to the park? She wrote the next bus line down and we rode an hour and a half. They told us to get off and with some Chinese symbols in hand we needed to find that bus… (video to follow).
Adventure 5 – Shanghai: Getting home! The lovely Wildlife park put bus routes and stops on the back of the park maps…one of the stops ”Shanghai South Railway Station.” Perfect, that’s right back to home for us!! Woot! We left, and some creepy non-legit taxi guys told us they would take us all the way home..haha right! They did tell us which bus was ours however! Home here we come! We then recognize that we are in People’s Square, (11 subway stops from where we want to go mind you) and the next stop is ”Shanghai Subway Station.” No “South” involved. Megan asks the lady using the Chinese subway map and she said this is where the Wildlife map says we’re stopping. Luckily from our unintentinal adventures from the night before we know where we are and we get tickets for the subway and head home. Success again!
Needless to say we’re getting to be pros at a few things, mainly showing Chinese symbols and using our translation book! We’ll see what the next 3 weeks has to bring us.
Our first week of clinic has come and gone, but we have all been left with a few things to ponder…
The school we are working with is known as Creative Garden, and the neighboring clinic is The Essential Learning Group (formerly known as Special Education Consulting- Shanghai). Currently, this is the only school in Shanghai that provides special education services; yet in a city of over 20 million people, there are only 22 students enrolled.
We found these numbers astounding, but with limited access to qualified special educators and multi-disciplinary professionals there is a very small opportunity for the program to expand. Likewise, the Chinese education system is not prepared nor trained to take on students with special needs, so most often these students are denied enrollment in both local and international schools.
The Creative Garden provides English-speaking services in specialized education, including physical therapy, speech therapy, and psychology. We are currently working with students from around the globe, ranging in ages from 3 to 16.
The four of us began taking over classes and implementing therapy by the second day, even teaching a math class because the teacher was absent! Needless to say, Karolina and I spent that night studying formulas for multiplying mixed numbers…
We have each been assigned to four individual clients, providing both diagnostic and treatment sessions either one-on-one or in groups. Our creative sides have definitely been challenged with our limited access to resources and materials, but we are embracing and loving every minute of our time with the kids!
On Wednesday we will be spending the day observing at a cochlear implant kindergarten, and Thursday we have the opportunity to observe at a Chinese outpatient clinic as well as see traditional Chinese therapies.
Next week, we will be traveling back to Hangzhou for the entire day to observe at a cleft palate clinic! We will also be conducting language screenings (using the PLS screening test) and hearing screenings for preschool children.
Now that we are becoming more comfortable with the Chinese culture and way of life, we are looking forward to what Shanghai will bring in our remaining 3 weeks!
We are finally in Shanghai! The past week has been incredibly busy with traveling, sightseeing, shopping, and acclimating to the culture differences. Our experiences have been nothing but incredible so far…despite the few traveling mishaps we have had along the way. As they say in Beijing, it has been so genivable! Here is a synopsis of what we have been up to…
Spent the first day exploring the Ming Tombs and climbing the Great Wall! Tasted our first Chinese meal, which was much more recognizable than I was expecting. A few of us had some chopstick difficulties, but we all eventually got fed…
Second day we visited the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, and the Summer Palace. Walked on the longest corridor in the world, pulled pearls out of a clam, and went to a Kung Fu show. Super windy and cold, but well worth seeing the sights. We have had our own driver the whole trip, which has been amazing because the driving is a little like playing mario kart…
Third day we visited the Temple of Heaven, rode in a rickshaw (a cart attached to a bike) and visited a local’s house. The house we visited was located in a neighborhood-type area, although much different from what we consider a neighborhood in America. The streets are like alleys, and people’s front doors lead into an outdoor courtyard, which is surrounded by rooms of a typical house. Each room has a separate entrance, and no room connects to another. You must walk outside to get into another room. Had my first experience of someone wanting to take a picture with me… I definitely do not blend in.
New Years Eve, the four of us took a taxi to the downtown bar area of Beijing. We ate dinner at a restaurant with a variety of live entertainment- mostly singers and various types of dancing. We ended up finding a more modern looking bar, playing mostly Lady Gaga and Beyonce.. haha. We ran into a bunch of English speakers… People from California, England, Canada, and Sweden. Our new group may have startled some of the Beijing residents as we counted down to midnight…
Fourth day we went to one of the largest Beijing markets. Definitely overwhelming! Thousands of itty-bitty shops selling knock-offs of everything you can imagine, and every salesperson yelling at you to come buy their goods. Also got our first experience with public transportation…through bus and subway. Definitely an experience in itself…
That night we took an overnight train from Beijing to Hangzhou. Between the four of us, we have 6 suitcases, 2 backpacks, and various other bags- which had to somehow fit in our sleeper cabin that had about a 2 foot by 5 foot open floor space. Needless to say, we were close for the next 14 hours….
Immediately getting off the sleeper train, we were bussed to our hotel where we ate breakfast and off to see the West Lake and a Buddist Temple. Because of the new year, there was a lot of activity at the temple- incense, fire, and torches were being used for prayer. We also were able to watch a traditional monk ceremony. The four of us are a spectacle to the people of Hangzhou… they must not get alot of tourists. Every time we stop to take a group picture, we end up getting our picture taken by 10 other people. Even as we walk, people are constantly taking out their phones and cameras, even running ahead to get a picture of us!
On January 3, we boarded a high-speed train that brought us to Shanghai. Finally a day to relax! We spent the afternoon walking around our hotel, exploring what is around. More to come…