PULLMAN — Nine speech and hearing sciences students from WSU, accompanied by three faculty members, will go to China in March to help train rehabilitation workers at a center for children with cerebral palsy in Shanghai and orphanage workers in Hangzhou, China.
The visit, which is a faculty led abroad experience, has been coordinated by Amy Meredith, professor at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences.
“Speech-language pathology and audiology are relatively new fields in China and there are very few institutions that provide training,” said Meredith.
“It is estimated that there are only 200 speech-language pathologists and 400 audiologists in China for a population of approximately 1.3 billion. To put this in perspective, the United States has over 100,000 speech-language pathologists and audiologists for a population of approximately 303 million,” she said.
The idea for this project originated when Meredith was adopting her daughter from the Xining orphanage in China. She learned that the majority of children in China orphanages have some type of physical and or mental disability and she thought that many of those children would benefit from speech-language pathology and audiology services.
As part of her efforts, Meredith is now looking for contributions to purchase some materials and help the students with the cost of the trip.
“We have had four main fundraising events. We sent out letters, made a Chinese lunch for 100 people, had a bake sale and received the proceeds from one weekend’s performance of Nut House. With these efforts, we’ve raised over $3,000, but we still need funds to purchase otoscopes and communication boards to bring to China. We would love to raise enough money for an audiometer, but we’re not sure how likely that is.”
Prior to departing for China, students will be trained in Chinese culture and language, as well as basics in audiological care, designing simple AAC devices, language development and pediatric feeding.
Once in China, students will be implementing the skills they have learned under faculty supervision and will be attending seminars with the rehabilitation professionals in China given by the WSU Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences faculty.
Students will also attend and participate in consultations with community-based rehabilitation workers and the children and families with whom they will work.
“This experience will provide the students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in their classes and more. They will have to learn to be flexible in working without the high tech devices they are used to and they also will need to learn how to most effectively communicate with people from another culture who speak a different language. They will also learn how to use an interpreter. This is a good skill to have when working in this country as well,” said Meredith.
The last fund raising event will be a wine, cheese and chocolate reception at the Wawawai Canyon Winery from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2.
There will also be a silent auction including artwork, Cougar sports memorabilia, gift baskets, wine and other items donated by local vendors. Live classical music will be provided by Kathy Spencer and Diane Worthey and a slide show of China will be presented with the pictures of professional photographer Alice Garland.