For Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) student Libby, working overseas in a Tibetan Monastery opened her eyes to the ways culture and spirituality can impact health systems around the world.
“I visited a small, primarily Tibetan village to help assist in implementing a healthcare program in the monastery. I also assisted both the younger students and the older Monks to study english with three other volunteers from America, Canada and Australia,” said Libby.
An explorer by nature, Libby was keen to take advantage of the global opportunities on offer through the University of Newcastle. The chance to visit northern India – a mountainous region a world away from Australia – appealed the most.
“Studying Occupational Therapy, I am incredibly interested in the healthcare systems in other countries – and the mix of spirituality, healthcare and cultural immersion from this program seemed like a perfect fit.
“I had always been interested in immersing myself in another culture, and although I am not religious myself, the idea of getting to spend time with a group of people who immerse themselves in a religious faith such as Buddhism, I was drawn to,” she said
Through the flexibility of the program, Libby was able to combine her international placement with her own travel plans.
“I had already planned to travel around India and thought it would be a great opportunity to do some volunteering.
Libby says the experience has made her more flexible and adaptable, and allowed her to understand more about implementing healthcare programs in diverse communities.
“I learnt about the importance of being respectful to individual and cultural needs when implementing programs in new environments,” she said.
“The experience gave me a deeper understanding of the health inequalities faced in different countries. I was implementing a healthcare program and the lack of resources available enhanced my ability to utilise the limited resources I had access to, which is often the case if you are working in rural areas in Australia,” she said.
When it comes to travel, it’s the little things that stay with you. The highlight of Libby’s overseas experience?
"Being invited multiple times on a daily basis into local people's homes for tea! Even through language barriers we were able to discover so much about each other's lives," she said.
An international placement in India gave Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) student Libby Duncan-Poidevin a better understanding of implementing healthcare programs in varied communities.
The experience gave me a deeper understanding of the health inequalities faced in different countries.