Attending the 2018 WFOT Congress as an OT student: my 8 very best moments!

Published by Maurane, on behalf of author Charlotte, SPOTeurope vice-president.

WFOT 2018 de Maurane

Hi everyone!

As some of you may know, I was lucky enough to win an RCOT competition (Royal College of Occupational Therapists) for funding to attend the WFOT Congress in South Africa this year.

I’ve just finished my second year of university and, although I’ve learnt a lot about OT (and myself), the WFOT Congress was perhaps more formative than any part of my OT journey so far!

I’d really like to share this experience with everyone, so here are my 8 best WFOT moments:

 

1. Marlene Le Roux

I knew this conference was going to be special when, in the opening ceremony, Marlene La Roux shared this powerful statement; “Occupational Therapy means you must be an activist.” We cannot limit our work to fitting ramps (for example); we have a responsibility to challenge attitudes, and see the bigger picture, using our skills to make change. This theme continued to grow throughout the conference. It was so exciting to see so many Occupational Therapists who were both passionate and political.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IpqIVz5jXcI

2. Elelwani Ramugondo: Healing work:  Intersections of Decoloniality

Elelwani Ramugondo’s keynote address introduced me to the concepts of occupational consciousness and decolonising health and Occupational Therapy. It was an incredibly powerful address which I am still reflecting on. As a result, I’m consciously unpicking my professional interactions and assumptions. I’m trying to ensure I am supporting the decolonisation of OT, not merely sustaining (and benefitting from) dominant practice. I’m also obsessed with reading her work, which should definitely be featured within our curriculum!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S96IIytPG9I

 

3. Hippotherapy

The WFOT congress wasn’t just workshops and presentations, there were also site visits. I was lucky enough to visit an OT at a local stables who runs hippotherapy sessions. Hippotherapy uses horse riding as a therapeutic occupation for increased balance, bilateral coordination, sensory integration, etc. It’s a fascinating area of practice and a really rare opportunity to see it in action! Check out the video made just for SPOTeurope.

 

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/1000415853177958400

 

4. GAPA Grannies (Grandmothers Against Poverty and Aids).

A really special feature at WFOT was the keynote address by service users in South Africa. It helped put Occupational Therapy into context and remind everyone who we are working for. The GAPA Grannies are such engaging story tellers. They shared their experiences of raising their grandchildren, the fight against Aids and poverty, and the value of being part of a group of people with shared experiences. You can see their presentation, as well as those from the other service user’s, here and here is their beautiful song.

http://www.gapa.org.za/

 

5. Student session

The student session consisted of a panel of inspiring Occupational Therapists talking about their individual OT journey and answering questions from students. They all had such different career paths and motivations, it was exciting to see there can be so much variation within our profession.

Here is some of the insight they offered:

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/1000086336928350208

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/999757524302786560

6. OT in natural disaster

When I think of disaster relief, I think of Doctors and Nurses swooping in and saving lives. I was curious to know where OT fits in, so I attended an afternoon of poster presentations on the subject.

I learnt that in a recent Japanese earthquake approximately twice as many disabled people died than non-disabled people. There are teams of OTs working with vulnerable communities to put plans in place should disaster strike. I was amazed to realise that, whilst others are picking up the pieces after a disaster, OTs are working behind the scenes to ensure it doesn’t claim as many lives in the first place, or disproportionality effect the most vulnerable. Our role is disaster preparedness!

 

7. Karen Whalley-Hammell: Building Globally Relevant Occupational Therapy from the Strength of our Diversity

Karen Whalley-Hammell’s keynote address challenged the predominantly white, female, middle class, western, non-disabled perspective that our research and theory comes from. She suggested that we have a habit of viewing these perspectives as the norm which is an “assertion of colonial power.” She offered lots of critique of our occupation categorisations and made strong arguments for a move towards co-occupations and interdependence to increase health and wellbeing. Not only was this fascinating and important, it will also be super useful in future assignments!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WipUPXx_Kk

8. Meeting new people and sharing a connection

I am not a naturally sociable person.. but the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with OTs and students from around the world was incredibly inspiring! I met people whose work I have followed, others who I have now started following and some who I will collaborate with in the future. Discovering shared interests and connections is exciting and gave new energy to my love for this profession!

https://twitter.com/LottieOcci/status/999329663804694529

https://twitter.com/SPOTeurope/status/1000016429213802496

Courtesy of Bill Wong


I have so much gratitude to RCOT for their competition and to my lecturers who convinced me to apply. I recommend you take any opportunity you can to attend the 2022 WFOT Congress in Paris!

SPOTeurope board members activities, news and projects.

Hi everyone! This blog aims to keep you up to date about SPOTeurope board activities. We know that our roles may be sometimes unclear, then here’s what we have done recently and a few words about our plans.

If you want to learn more about each member of the board check our About/The Board section.

Marlies, president, and Charlotte, vice president

They are currently strongly working with ENOTHE, the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education. They’re mainly preparing the 24th ENOTHE Annual Meeting, from 4th to 6th October 2018 at the Escola Superior de Saúde do Alcoitão (ESSA), Portugal, where we’re going to have a big presence.

Charlotte, SPOTeurope Vice-President

In addition, Marlies host the website. She’s also in touch with different OT students and universities from all over Europe, answering and redirecting emails to the others board members. She’s currently working on a map she’d like to post on the website; this map shows OT Schools and Universities across Europe and SPOT representatives. It’s an amazing tool so everyone can see where we have students who you can be in touch with. She hopes the map to be online before the summer holiday.

Charlotte is also the one who write reports after meetings. She has been increasing SPOT’s international community, espacially via the WFOT Congress in South Africa she participated in. Thus Charlotte had the opportunity to talk with OT students about their projects, various experiences, life as OT students in Europe, etc. It allows her to encourage them in writing a blog for us.

 

Jena, social media lead

Jena, our social media lead

She posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of SPOTeurope. She established themes for some days of the week like the “OT memes Monday” or “Self-care Sunday” or the “Blog Wednesday”. She recently launched our Instagram page! We would like our social medias to be more active. Thus if anyone ever wants something promoted or sees something they’d like posted, feel free to message her on any of the social medias. About Instagram, you can send videos of “OT students’ moments”. Jena will be able to share it with the European OT students’ community!

Valia, outreach lead

Valia contacts and keep in touch with European OT universities who are members of ENOTHE. She informs them about our platform and explains them ways of getting involved. Indeed she conducted a brief explanatory email about SPOTeurope and an additional file with more detailed information. The next plan is to discuss with Marlies which universities have already been informed about SPOTeurope and what our next action will be.

Cassandra, mini SPOT coordinator

Her role is to help you creating and leading mini SPOT in your university. You wonder what a mini SPOT is ? Basically a mini SPOT is a student platform at a university. The platform stands for internationalization at the university. For example at her university in Amsterdam, they organize movie nights with an intercultural theme and they discuss it. Also they create theme days about internationalization. The platform is run by students and for students. Off course a coordinated teacher would be appreciated. Every student can set up a mini SPOT, yet it is important that they are linked to SPOTeurope, that’s why the name mini SPOT. Also the representative of the university should be linked with the SPOT. If you’re interested in creating a mini SPOT in your university, feel free to email Cassandra at minispot@spoteurope.eu.

Maurane, blogger

I look for guest bloggers with the help of SPOT representatives and board members, and manage requests of people who want to write a blog for us. Then I help them writing their blog entries when needed. I write some blogs, like this one. Moreover I manage the articles’ layout: create designs, images, etc. I recently added a comments section under the articles for them to foster discussions and interactions, please feel free to ask anything and react about the blog theme!

As I’ll graduate soon, we are looking for a new blogger for SPOTeurope from October. If you’re interested in joining the board, feel free to email me at blogger@spoteurope.eu to ask me anything about the role (even if you’re not confident in your English skills!).

Breaking news!


Marlies and Vanessa in Gent, Belgium (2018, March)

We are pleased to announce that Alex Lukavsky and Vanessa Röck, Austrian SPOT representatives are now SPOT representatives’ leads. They’ll be happy to offer tips and advice to any representatives.

The Newsletter ! Indeed we are going to share the first newsletter quite soon, you can subscribe entering you name and email address on the right sidebar.

 

 

 


You want to become a guest blogger/SPOT representative/blogger? Or create a mini SPOT in your university? Feel free to ask emailing the board at info@spoteurope.eu, we would be happy to answer you! 

My international fieldwork placement in Trois-Rivières, Canada

Hi everyone, Maurane’s speaking ! Today I’m going to tell you about this amazing experience I’ve had last year : my international occupational therapy fieldwork placement in Trois-Rivières, QC, Canada.

When ?

I’ve been there from May, 5th to July, 18th, 2017, as a 2nd year OT student. For 8 weeks I’ve had an awesome placement, and then I spent 10 days road-tripping across Quebec.

Where ?

I was in Trois-Rivières, Canada, a French-speaking city. My placement took place in the local teaching hospital, especially in family medicine, pneumology, orthopaedic, urology, gastroenterology and vascular surgery departments, mainly with elderly people. Both of my supervisors were referent for several of the following departments, but they were attached to the rehabilitation department.

Why ?

I wanted to step out of my comfort zone experiencing something new, far from my country, my culture and my habits. I also wanted to get to know another way to provide occupational therapy services, especially in North America, OT birthplace.

What ?

I learned so many things ! On an individual level and of course professionally, this placement really impressed me. I feel this was the first time I really felt as an OT.

Personal development

Stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing totally new stuffs alone was much rewarding. Indeed I had no choice but to cope with any situations in everyday life by my own. I’ve had issues with lodging in the first week I was there. I’ve had to move from my place, thus I had to look for another place to live. I managed this by my own, without my parents assisting me, and it went well ! Then I was pretty proud and I feel more confident now as I know that I’m able to manage this kind of situations by my own.

Moreover I met awesome people there. I took the time to get to know them and their culture, I discovered a way of life I didn’t know before, which got me think about my own philosophy and lifestyle. Even if they speak French and live in a western culture, I felt differences in people’s behaviors and values. In general terms I felt they were much optimistic about life ! I also met people coming from all over the world travelling during week ends. I became less afraid to start a conversation with people I don’t know, which is also an advantage in professional practice !

Professional development

I’ve had to adapt to a brand new health care system, professional environment, and culture in a short period of time. First, I gained confidence in my adaptative skills as I’ve had no troubles accommodating to this unfamiliar environment. Secondly I learnt working with great rigor. My supervisors were more demanding than I’ve had ever experience in France, especially about professional writings. I learnt to use accurate terms when forwarding information to other professionals, in both oral and written form. During this placement I also felt that OT practice was more evidence based than it is in France, as research is also way more fertile. Thus I understood the importance of developing research in OT in France as it’s essential to expand and enhance our practice.

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Standing in front of the Cogeco Auditorium in Trois-Rivières.

I would never recommend you enough to travel and experience unfamiliar fieldwork placement settings !

Feel free to react and ask me any question you may have.

Email : blogger@spoteurope.eu // Twitter : @maurane_ctr