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How was Hawaii?

Guest Blogger Leila K., former NU Co-op PT student writes about her time spent with our Ohana.

People are curious when you have been far away for a long time. “How was Hawaii?” they would ask me over and over again. I had a hard time answering them. How could I describe such an incredible experience without making them listen to me go on for hours? Amazing doesn’t even begin to cover it. My experience was positive in so many dimensions and I learned so much from it, if I was forced to distill my time in Hawaii at Fukuji and Lum into a considerately short series of phrases, I would say that I found a home there, a place that I hold in my heart, and that I dream of returning.

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One thing I tell people when they ask me about my experience is that I never once woke up dreading to go to work. Even though I had to wake up super early every morning (which is not easy for me I am not an early morning person at all), I looked forward to go to work. Everyone at Fukuji and Lum was so positive and fun to work with. There was never a dull moment! I learned something from every person I worked with.

Working at the clinic, pool, and pool front office allowed me to experience so many different aspects of the physical therapy profession. It was amazing to watch people make improvements in the pool and then to watch them continue to improve on land. It was very rewarding. Working at the front desk showed me how complicated patient care can be. I learned a lot about the importance of interdisciplinary communication from working at the front desk. 

When I wrote my first blog post, I wrote down all the things I wanted to do before I left the island. I am glad to say that I did get to hike Stairway to Heaven and the Pill Boxes at sunrise and I ate an enormous amount of acai and pitaya bowls that I miss so dearly. I even got to learn how to hula dance! Unfortunately I never got to swim with dolphins but I did get to see both dolphins and whales from shore so I can settle with that!

If I hadn’t co-oped in Hawaii, I may not have the three new sibling-friends that I have now. Ashley, Justin and Colby became my family and I don’t know what I would do without each of them in my life. From sliding down muddy mountains in the dark with Ashley, watching Colby almost die in the ocean multiple times, and watching Justin cook 10 pounds of chicken at a time, I have so many special memories with each of them.

When I completed my co-op I knew that I had learned so much from working at Fukuji and Lum. I had no idea how much I had absorbed until I was sitting in my spring and summer lecture halls and actually making connections from what I saw on co-op in my classes. It was really amazing to realize exactly how much I learned. I feel so much more confident in my skills in school because of what I learned at Fukuji and Lum. 

One of the best parts about my co-op experience was the Fukuji and Lum family. You all accepted us right away and I felt so welcome. You all made being so far from home much easier and I cannot thank you all enough for that. I think about Hawaii every day and I can’t wait until I can go back again.

Love and Aloha,
Leila

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