A Reflection on the Co-Op Experience


Berika tells us what she unexpectedly learned through her co-op experience and reflects on her time on island. 

What was the one experience that you think was the highlight of the experience? one in the clinic and one outside the clinic.

One of the highlights of my experience was the company retreat! Because my coop took place while COVID was and is still thriving, there weren't too many opportunities to interact with majority of the staff outside of the clinic until the retreat. Seeing everyone on a day to day basis was always great, but watching everyone team up to play volleyball, get massages, and do yoga was even better. I knew it was something that everyone looked forward to every year, and the hype did not fall short when the day came. It was just as fun as we had all hoped and probably even more so for me. Watching Art and Lauren Lum smack each other with pool noodles was just a cherry on top to this day as well.

Outside of the clinic, sky diving for my birthday was a highlight of my time spent in Hawaii! Seeing the North shore land and ocean while falling from 12,000 feet in the air was such a stunning and thrilling experience. Words and pictures can only capture how beautiful and meaningful the entire experience was. Easily one most exciting things I've done in life, and I highly recommend!

Who had the most impact on you during your time here?

My roommates actually had the most impact on me during my time here. We went from not really knowing each other as classmates to moving to an island together and becoming really well acquainted roommates, coworkers, and friends. Going home each day and being able to share what we learned from our respective clinics was such a unique experience that you don't really get from any other coop site. I can only speak for myself, but you absolutely learn so much from spending 6 months together especially when we came from different backgrounds, parts of the country, and with different personalities too. Yes, it was chaotic at times , but for me, I began PT school and my coop being closed off to forming relationships, and I left this experience with some of the most sincere relationships I've ever had. We will always have this shared experience of living in Hawaii for 6 months together.

What was the most surprising thing that you did not expect to learn?

The most surprising thing I did not expect to learn was that I really enjoy aquatic therapy. Before coming to Fukuji and Lum for coop, I knew they offered aquatic therapy, but because I had no water sports or swimming background I did not expect myself to be working at the pool. But I was scheduled at the pool on one of my first days and I soon learned that the aquatic therapy staff are all amazing people, the patients are one of a kind, and the entire setting was a lot different than I had expected it to be and in all the right ways. I'm proud to say I even learned how to swim on one of my first days!  The aquatic therapy portion of my coop experience was absolutely something I did not know I needed in my life!