Hello, I am Rabia Yaşar. I am a second-year student at Hacettepe University Occupational Therapy Department. I am currently the Activity Coordinator at miniSPOT Hacettepe.
As miniSPOT Hacettepe, we meet with our occupational therapy student friends on different platforms. We organize events together in light of our different perspectives. In addition to these, we organize English-speaking club activities called SPOTing in order to practice English. I moderated them and still doing it, and this made an incredible contribution to self-confidence in my English speaking.
I participated in the “Accessible Life” Fair held in Istanbul on December 1-4, 2023 in order to expand my network, communicate with company officials that we can work with, and meet with occupational therapy students and teachers in other schools. During the fair, I took part in the Occupational Therapy Association stand. With this task, I experienced different situations that would improve me on how to explain occupational therapy to people. In addition, I had the opportunity to meet occupational therapist teachers that I had not had the opportunity to meet face-to-face before.
My View About Fair
At this fair, there were stands of some of the ministries in our country. I visited the Human Rights and Equality Institution from these stands. I met the people working there and they explained about what they were doing, their plans, and their projects.
They explained the extent of their inspection in case of existing inequality. When I asked which occupational groups they were working with during this inspection, they said they usually went to these inspections with psychologists, sociologists, and lawyers.
Later I asked the officer who spoke to me if there could be an occupational therapist on this team. He said that he did not know about this subject, but that he would convey this to his superiors. The fact that there is always a chance and hope to grow and improve in occupational therapy excites me so much!
When I went to the Ministry of Family and Social Services stand, the officer there stated that he knew about occupational therapy. He even told us that he has a friend who is also interested in occupational therapy in the ministry.
There were also organizations in the ministries such as Gendarmerie General Command and Coast Guard, which I was not sure about what they were doing about disability. Then I decided to ask them to satisfy my curiosity. They answered my questions in a very sweet and smiling way. They also did not know much about occupational therapy. My friends and I explained to them about occupational therapy, and its fields and explained the multidisciplinary perspective of our profession to them.
After the stands of the ministries, we visited the stands of the companies. There were companies that produced mostly wheelchairs, and companies that produced ramps. We received information from the officials there about the production of wheelchairs. They talked about which type of chair is suitable for which patients.
Apart from these, one of the most beautiful and impressive things for me was being able to experience the wheelchair simulation developed by Turkish and Greek engineers.
The name of this simulator is “SIMO”, an advanced technological simulator designed to measure all the dimensions required for a wheelchair to fit the wheelchair user’s body and to calculate the most appropriate posture for the user’s performance.
It was great to be able to meet with the people who developed it while trying out this simulator. In the simulation, I was in a wheelchair race on the street, I couldn’t win, but I had a lot of fun. During this race, our reactions were recorded with the camera, and it was very funny to watch myself after the race was over.
In general, both of my experience was great! I learned and experienced situations that surprised me, established new networks, and met with people from different groups on different topics.
My Presenter Role in Congress
After that, I attended the “Occupational Therapy and Disability” Congress on 3-4 December 2023 in Istanbul. I was a presenter at this convention. During the congress, I learned how to solve the crisis moments that may occur as a presenter. Even though it was a very difficult and stressful situation for me at that moment, it was a situation where I could laugh and experience it afterward.
During this task, I listened to presentations on topics that I was not aware of before and learned what occupational therapists can do in these areas.
For example, one of our teachers talked about working with the wheelchair basketball team at BJK, one of the biggest sports clubs in Turkey. I never thought that we could be in such a team as occupational therapists. it hadn’t occurred to me. I was very happy to learn that there is a new field where I can be experienced.
But apart from these, the thing that impressed me the most at the congress was one of the guests. One of our guests was a 26-year-old university student with autism who was studying at the conservatory. She also mentioned that she can play about 23 different instruments.
She sang to the audience in the time given to him at the congress and talked about her experiences. During this time, our guest’s mother also told us about the difficulties she experienced as a caregiver, positive situations, and what she is doing now. They inspired us!
As a result, it was incredible for me to both take an active part in the fair and the congress. It was an experience that widened my horizons and contributed to my self-development and opened new doors for me. I hope to experience similar ones again in the future!