PITTSBURGH, PA (October 20, 2016) This past summer, Dr. Anne Marie Hansen, Lay Spiritan; and Dr. Jaime Munõz, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy (OT) at Duquesne University, led a group of four Master’s in OT students and two occupational therapy alumni on a 16 -day cross-cultural, community-based learning experience.
Entitled Focus on Tanzania: Health, Disability & Social Justice, the course explored culture, global health, disability and poverty with a social justice lens in the context of Tanzania, East Africa. Students learned from listening to the stories of many people they met — including people with disabilities — and members of local interdisciplinary rehabilitation professionals who work with people with disabilities and how they address the complex challenges they face every day.
“This experience is a valuable learning activity, bringing to life the tradition of Catholic social teaching and Spiritan charism,” said Dr. Hansen. “It included academic instruction, meaningful service, and critical reflective thinking to enhance student learning and social responsibility.
“It differs from volunteerism, community service, internships, and field education through its use of structured, critical inquiry and emphasis on reciprocal partnerships between the students and the international partners.”
While in Tanzania, students engaged in other meaningful activities, such as providing craft activities and games for children with disabilities at the Plaster House, a local children’s rehabilitation center. They also prepared, in advance, a continuing professional development workshop for local occupational therapists at KCMC Hospital and KCMC College University in Moshi, co-sponsored by the Tanzania Occupational Therapy Association. The group also presented a day long health and wellness in “body, mind and spirit” workshop for Lay Spiritans.
“This course reflects an on-going commitment to the Spiritans in Tanzania and various health and rehabilitation organizations in the Arusha region, grounded in an understanding of their expressed interests and needs,” said Dr. Hansen. “The overall purpose of this experience was to continue and sustain an on-going commitment of Duquesne University, its department of occupational therapy and the Rangos School of Health Sciences to meet local needs while students learn about global health, disability, poverty and social justice.”
The students and practitioners thanked their many gracious hosts, including Frs. Josephat Msongore, C.S.Sp.; Pat Patten, C.S.Sp.; John Assey, C.S.Sp.; and Evod Shao, C.S.Sp; to experience a taste of what it means to become a more globally engaged citizen with a commitment to advocate for those at the margins of society. “Tutataonana!” “ We will return!”