My STEP project included traveling to Japan with a group of OSU students and professors to learn about culture and attend a seminar. During the seminar we got the chance to grow in our fields and make international relationships with other students.
I think that this was a very transformational experience for me. Personally I really grew. I was able to step out of my comfort zone and try a lot of new things and meet a lot of new people. I formed relationships that will last a lifetime as we shared such special memories.
Career wise I grew as well. This experience gave me a real chance to get a new perspective of my field as well as other fields and how they interact. Also learning about a new culture will make me a better professional for my patients and co-workers, with is an important part of my field. Being in Speech Pathology, nonverbal communication is a big thing and being the one unable to communicate was a big challenge and something that I can take to work and help me better understand others.
I think that having so many people from all around the world together and speaking the same language really altered the way I looked at language, speech and communication. So much more than words go into communicating. We all had to use facial expressions, hand motions, circumlocution to talk to each other. Also just because someone has an accent doesn’t mean they are speaking incorrectly, just differently. It was interesting to see what common and not so common words are used among us all.
It was also interesting to see how different the culture in Japan is regarding people with disabilities. Disability studies is an interest of mine so a lot of this stood out to me. The way they have access for everyone in public is very impressive. One example is a guide in the sidewalk for the blind. They also have great adapted physical education programs. This gave me great ideas for my career.
Having the ability to be in such a different place with all new people really made me grow as a person. I had to branch out and make new connections with people. We had a lot of opportunities to try new things like meditation, new sports, new food, etc. I think that all of these opportunities really enforced how good it is to try things and grow. One spiritual experience of growth for me was going to the temples and having to “cleanse the soul” before entering; this to me was very special.
These changes matter because they have helped me grow for the better. I will always remember these experiences. They will be references in my academics, career, and personal life. The changes I have made throughout this journey have helped me to see where I want to be later in life. I have gained more clarity on not just the world broadly but on my own distinct path.