MSLP Study Abroad
The MSLP program at St. Ambrose University offers a unique study abroad component to your graduate studies. Study abroad in Ecuador aligns with the SAU mission to provide opportunities to its students to develop intellectually, spiritually, ethically, and artistically in order to enrich their own lives and the lives of others. It also aligns with the MSLP program's mission to develop exceptional speech-language pathologists dedicated to positively impacting their communities through service, advocacy, and scholarship. The Ecuador experience is definitely one of personal and professional growth.
Students experience the Ecuadorian culture through interaction with the general public and host families, as well as by observing SLPs, other health professionals, and educators in action.
A recent addition to the Ecuador experience visiting the University of Cuenca to interact with SLP students in the U. Cuenca Speech-Language Pathology Program. Day trips and weekend excursions take faculty and students to cities and towns in the Andes to view and experience the geography, artisanship, and cultural treasures of Ecuador. Students study, prepare and implement best practices for AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) with a variety of children and young adults who have significant communication disorders. These interactions provide experience with minimal/very basic communication capabilities, similar to what might be seen in preschoolers. AAC experiences during study abroad enrich the graduate students' perspective in preparation for the AAC course during Spring Semester. Clinic hours are accumulated via collaboration with Ecuadorian SLPs and SAU faculty.
Speaking Spanish is not a requirement!
For clinicians who do not speak Spanish or have limited skills, daily survival Spanish lessons are scheduled each morning. Familiarity in working with an interpreter will be developed during site visits and cultural outings. True to Ambrosian form, our current students and alumni have reported that their experience abroad was fulfilling both personally and professionally:
Forming Greater Connections
"It's rare that a master's-level program offers a study abroad experience at all, let alone an interdisciplinary international trip. Working with occupational therapy students at an assisted living facility, hospital, school and orphanage was extremely educational and FUN! The trip encompassed continuous learning opportunities, exploration of oneself, and new territory and reflection that enhanced my understanding of our profession in many ways. I felt a greater connection to my peers, our future coworkers and the greater umbrella of healthcare professionals worldwide through this three-week intensive."
-Audra Zipple '16 MSLP, MS, CCC-SLP
Learning from Patients
"I loved the experience I gained in Ecuador. I still stay in contact with my host family and plan to return for a visit. When I first arrived to Ecuador the language barrier was difficult, but that experience only gave me a stronger connection to my clients and patients who are living with that language barrier everyday. I loved seeing the similarities and differences of another country's medical care and educational facilities. It was insightful to hear the stories and experiences the educators and staff have and how we could learn from each other clinically. I learned so much about the deep spiritual connection Ecuadorians have with their beautiful culture, way of life, and their devoted love for friends and family. MSLP Study Abroad in Ecuador was a life experience I will cherish and share forever."
-Corinne Daily '18 MSLP
Applying an Interdisciplinary Approach
"The MSLP Ecuador trip gave me a more global perspective on the profession of speech-language pathology. I was able to experience firsthand how my classroom training can be applied in a clinical setting anywhere in the world. As a bonus, I also received experience working alongside occupational therapists, which I now use in my current practice."
-Grace Wolf '16 MSLP
Opportunity for Personal Growth
"For anyone who has the chance, I would strongly recommended studying abroad. Take the risk and go for it. Even now, my colleagues are amazed that a graduate program offers this type of opportunity. Because of this experience, I have grown as a clinician and a person, and I thank St. Ambrose for that opportunity."
-Rina Ner '16 MSLP
While I already had been to Peru and was in love with Andean South America, returning as a graduate student made me love this part of the world so much more. With a semester of MSLP education under my belt and a stronger understanding of communication disorders, I came in with a new perspective and learned even more. This is my perspective on the reasons you should study abroad as an MSLP student:
1. Experiencing a language barrier is incredibly important for a budding SLP. My Spanish was nowhere near perfect, so I stumbled frequently much like our clients would with communication disorders. This massively impacted how I understand my clients' struggles and has made me a better clinician.
2. With numerous ways to communicate, speaking doesn't always need to be the end goal to achieve a good quality of life. Working with patients who not only have severe impairments in verbal communication, but also cannot understand English, forced us to find other ways.
3. My passion for helping others with communication disorders increased as a result of this trip, and witnessing my professors' passion had a part to play in that, too.
4. Our class become even closer by helping each other and exploring together in a foreign country. We also built lasting relationships with our host families, and I am still close and in contact with my host family.
5. Ecuador is beautiful; its views, people, and culture alone are worth it.
-Branden Smith '18 MSLP