By Deb Matsuura

Introducing our NEU Fall Semester PT Students!

Welcome Claire to the F&L 'Ohana!

Hello! I’m Claire, a graduate of Fox Chapel High School in Pittsburgh, PA and a current a third-year physical therapy student at Northeastern University in Boston.

From a young age, I was interested in pursuing a career in physical therapy. When I combined all of my interests and passions, physical therapy checked off all of my boxes: helping others, physically and mentally challenging activities, and medicine. Growing up, I had my fair share of bumps and bruises that taught me how valuable independence is in one’s own life. I became increasingly aware of the pains and struggles of the people around me and the toll it took on their physical, mental, and emotional health. Eventually, I grew passionate about the ability to function independently. In hindsight, it seems obvious to me that physical therapy is the right career for me, but I actually entered college as a product design major, which I quickly changed. Once I started taking physical therapy-related classes, I developed an ongoing gut feeling that I had chosen to follow the right path for me; since changing my major, I felt noticeably happier and looked forward to going to my classes.

While searching for co-ops this past spring, I felt that same surge of enthusiasm when I was introduced to Fukuji & Lum. Between reading about the company culture and hearing testimonies from previous F&L co-op students, I was excited to have found a company that embodies the same values that I hold. Someday, I hope to practice physical therapy with integrity, continued personal and professional growth, compassion, and joy.

 

My time at F&L, and Hawaii in general, has been full of opportunities for growth. I remember driving home from buying a car and seeing a sign on the side of the road that read “Drive with Aloha.” I couldn’t help but smile and feel a calming reassurance that good things were waiting ahead in the next six months. In order to fully immerse myself in the Hawaii experience, I have tried to push the boundaries of my comfort zone by trying new foods, like dried seaweed, and testing out therapeutic treatments that I had never done before, such as scar mobilization. I’ve even developed the confidence to (safely) explore the island on my own! I have a long list of activities to do and places to see while I’m here, which includes swimming, snorkeling, surfing, hiking, and swimming with sharks once the beaches, parks, and trails reopen. Most importantly, I want to be open to all of the unexpected opportunities that pop up along my adventure. I am grateful for all of the recommendations I have received form co-workers and patients, and I can’t wait to do as many of them as I can.

I am grateful for my family, who have supported me throughout my life by encouraging me to pursue my passions, persevere during difficult times, and find the positives every step of the journey. Without my parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and unofficial family, I can’t begin to imagine where I would be. I look forward to continuing to embrace Aloha Spirit, absorbing the plethora of knowledge around me, and accepting whatever else comes my way.

By Deb Matsuura

Introducing our NEU Fall Semester PT Students!

Welcome Helen to the F&L 'Ohana!

I attended South Burlington High School in South Burlington, Vermont, and I currently attend Northeastern University, in Boston, Massachusetts. I first became interested in physical therapy when I broke my ankle playing tennis in high school. After my cast was removed, I began physical therapy and my therapist treated my ankle and then sent me back to play again. When I returned to the court, I was plagued by knee problems, so I headed back to physical therapy, but this time to a different therapist. This therapist took a holistic approach to my treatment and explained how my knee problems were a result of muscle weakness from my ankle injury. She helped me return to my preinjury state, as well as further strengthen me and as a result, improve my performance on the court. I was fascinated by the fact that my ankle injury recovery involved strengthening so many different parts of my body, as I hadn’t realized just how intertwined everything was. When I graduate, I hope to become an outpatient physical therapist. I’m not yet sure what population of patients I’d like to work with, but I do know that I would like to take a very holistic approach to treating my patients so that I can help them recover as much as possible.

I won’t deny that when I first heard about this coop, I was interested by the fact that it was in Hawaii. However, the more I learned about it, the more I realized just how unique the opportunity was. I realized that moving 5000 miles away from home for a position that would introduce me to so many important parts of my field would help me grow so much both personally and professionally. And doing that all while dealing with a pandemic has only increased my opportunity to grow. Just over two months into this experience, I have learned and done more in the clinic than I ever thought I would in my six months here. It has been challenging to adjust to living and working here and explore the island during a pandemic, but the opportunities I have been given as a physical therapy coop student at Fukuji & Lum make it all worthwhile.

In my free time, I have been trying to explore the island of Oahu as much as possible. Before the current restrictions were put into place, I enjoyed watching the sunrise from Lanikai Beach and hiking the Lanikai Pillbox Hike and the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. Since the restrictions have been increased, I have spent most of my time reading and enjoying the view of the ocean from our porch. As things (hopefully) start to open back up, I would really like to go snorkeling in Hanauma Bay, see the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, and go to the Sunrise Shack. I have had some delicious açai bowls and smoothies since I have been here, as well as some really interesting fruit. I tried papaya and dragonfruit for the first time recently, and I am still not really sure how I feel about them.

As I continue to experience this amazing opportunity over the next several months, I feel so grateful for my mom and the influence she has had on me. She has always served as an example to me to work hard and always give your best effort. Despite her initial concerns about me moving thousands of miles away from her for six months, she has been nothing but supportive of my choice to pursue physical therapy as a career and take advantage of this opportunity offered by Fukuji & Lum. She has been so helpful to me throughout this experience and I feel lucky that I can FaceTime her and she’ll be there to hear about my day, give me advice, or even just give our cat Lucy some kisses for me.

Helen

By Deb Matsuura

Introducing our NEU Fall Semester PT Students!

Welcome Emily to the F&L 'Ohana!

Hi there! 🙂

I’m originally from Long Island, NY and graduated from Schreiber High School in Port Washington. I’m currently a 3rd year PT student at Northeastern University in Boston, MA.

I had always known I wanted to go into the healthcare field when I was growing up, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I discovered that physical therapy was the career for me. In my junior year of high school, I became interested in yoga; I loved to analyze how body movement and mechanics could influence how a person feels. The parallels between physical therapy and yoga in the physical aspect of exercise combined with the mindfulness of alignment is what ultimately led me to the decision to become a PT.

When we were first beginning to look at co-ops, Fukuji & Lum was the first to catch my eye-as a native New Yorker I was excited at the prospect of traveling somewhere warm. Once I began to research more about the company, I realized that there was so much more to this opportunity than just the location. I learned that this clinic would provide me with so much more than just a job in Hawaii, I would have the change to create lifelong friendships. The staff here at Fukuji & Lum are really one big happy family, and I’m so grateful to be able to learn and grow surrounded by such supportive and compassionate people.

It’s these same fantastic people who are introducing me to all of the amazing food here on the island! Between (socially distanced) potluck staff meetings and going away lunches, I’ve tried everything from musubi to malasadas and can’t wait to keep trying more.

I only got to sneak in a few hikes and beach days before the shut down, but I can’t wait to keep exploring and learning about Hawaii’s land and culture. I hope to be able to continue my adventures once it’s safe, but if not, I guess I’ll just have to come back and visit!

As I’ve begun to gain experience in the field of physical therapy, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly interested in specializing in Geriatric PT. I think there’s something so special about being able to restore or maintain strength and flexibility so that someone can continue to be healthy and active as they age. The Aquatic Therapy clinic has been especially helpful in teaching me strategies for helping a patient to improve balance and stability.

My passion for learning and teaching techniques for improving balance, posture, and alignment wouldn’t have begun if not for my mom. As a yoga instructor herself, she is the one who introduced me to the practice as well as most of the techniques I use stay mindful of my own movements.

I hope to be able to share these values with my patients and am so excited to begin my journey in the world of physical therapy!

By Deb Matsuura

Northeastern PT Student Coop Reflection 2020

My Coop Experience During the Pandemic

Reflecting back on my co-op makes me realize how much I experienced in Hawaii. Most changes day to day are fairly small, and so we don’t always realize how we grow over time. However, there are some moments that stand out in our memories because they represent pivotal changes.

I remember overhearing a conversation about the news of the first COVID cases, but continuing on with my day relatively unfazed. I remember counting the number of patient cancellations prior to our temporary clinic closure at the end of March. And I remember the zoom meeting where our plan to return to work was created. These were the big events that I feel marked each new life I lived in Hawaii.

I received countless apologies from patients and co-workers because my time in Hawaii was affected by COVID. While I wish COVID did not exist, the fact of the matter is that it does. And it does for the whole world. Therefore, I never felt like my co-op experience was any lesser because of it. We are in the healthcare profession and part of the job is adapting to change to best serve the community.

I am grateful for the extra time to explore the island and go surfing while the clinic was closed. I am grateful to have been a member of the bridge team when the clinic reopened. And most of all, I am grateful for all of the personal and professional learning opportunities in between.

 

All of my friends and family were 5,000 miles away back in Boston, but I never felt isolated or alone. All of us co-ops were constantly supported by each other and our co-workers. It even feels slightly odd to call the employees of Fukuji & Lum “co-workers” because it’s such an impersonal term. The way that everyone would reach out with offerings of vegetables, puzzles, zoom yoga classes, and support was on par with that of family. I knew of the aloha spirit, but to truly experience it is something that is difficult to put into words. I just hope that I can transfer that feeling and spread the aloha spirit to my friends and family back in Boston.

Mahalo nui loa. A hui hou.

Joy

By Deb Matsuura

A Life Practice

“Leading yoga is my gift to the Fukuji & Lum ohana… I feel like the least I can do is offer that to the people who I love, that I work with.”

Jocelyn Shiro has been with Fukuji & Lum as an aquatic physical therapist since her arrival on the island nearly 5 years ago. She has been the company’s resident yogi, ray of sunshine, and dancing queen ever since. Before spotlighting Jocelyn, not only did I want to interview her, but I found it important to interview those who know her best. When asked to describe Joce in one word, the staff immediately answered with adjectives that reflect how she has impacted them. Some of the answers I received were: joyful, loving, compassionate, wise, kind hearted, luminous. It is clear from these characterizations how much love and light Jocelyn brings to F&L. So how has she managed to continue sharing this love and light while clinics are closed and stay at home orders are in place?

“I’m not one to be idle.” Although the world may be on pause, Jocelyn doesn’t allow her life to be halted. She fills the quarantine weeks with full days that keep her carrying on. With the shift from normal work days to social distancing, came the emergence of new rituals. Since the closure of clinics on March 18, Jocelyn has not missed one sunrise. Every morning, she wakes up before the sun to start her day with vitality. “The metaphor to sunrise is a new day.. Start over. Rest. Let go of anything that was getting you down yesterday because today is a new day.” A new beginning at the start of each day makes it easier to move forward despite set-backs that may have been weighing heavy the day before. When beach activity was prohibited and her sunrise walks were compromised, Jocelyn did not give up her ritual, she simply adapted it. She substituted morning walks for sunrise swims. The ritual was not lost. The sunrise streak remains alive… just now with an extra sweatshirt to warm back up before yoga at 8.

This is just the beginning of a day in the life forJocelyn. After entering her day with new energy, she goes to the W.O.R.C. clinic each week day to lead the company in an hour long yoga session via the “Zoom” video chat platform. With yoga sculpt three days of week and yoga flow on the other two, Jocelyn provides a way for staff to continue a movement practice despite the closure and closure of fitness studios. She reflects on her previous F&L yoga sessions, once a quarter or for special events. Collaborating with the Culture Club Living Tribe, Jocelyn has transformed Zoom yoga into an everyday ritual where staff can come together for a practice of movement and spirituality.

More and more of us tune in each morning to join Jocelyn in her sculpt and flow, some of us returning to a familiar practice, and others giving yoga a chance for the first time. For Joce, yoga is a life practice that is part of her life everyday. She remembers that it was not always this way, however. Before arriving here on Oahu 5 years ago, Jocelyn was a professional dancer who was dedicated to her intense and demanding profession, committed to this movement practice of dance. Yoga did not resonate when she dabbled it in at different times earlier in life. “I wasn’t ready to go inward.” During her years here on Oahu, yoga has re-entered her life at the right time. She explains that initially yoga was a way to stay active and physically fit, until realizing that it was much more than that. “I started going for the physical benefits of strength and stability … but then I realized the more I went, the more I felt good inside my mind … more calm, less stressed. Those benefits came to me on the side, but now I do yoga for those benefits primarily and the physical benefits are the side.” As I listened to Jocelyn describe these ways in which yoga has impacted her life, I couldn’t help but think: this tranquility and reduced stress is exactly what we are all searching for in these times of uncertainty.

At the start of our flow today, Jocelyn offered the intention of perseverance and strength. More things we are searching for. So what is an intention? Well, there is not just a single intention, but an abundance. Intentions are personal and dynamic. Jocelyn explains that “intentions are a multitude of things. It’s different for different people. And for different days and different stages of life.” An intention may change day to day, as it depends where you are in your life and your human experience. Intentions match whatever you need. Joce describes that her personal struggle over the past 24 hours has been feeling of discouragement. Thinking we were headed toward the light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully with the re-opening of beaches and parks, instead we got news of limitations on beach activity altogether. “The tunnel was made longer, which was discouraging.” For Jocelyn, she set an intention of perseverance to serve her carrying on despite disappointment. We each have the power to set an intention to serve our needs, to serve our purpose.

Along with intentions, our growth is highly dependent on the support system we surround ourselves with. Jocelyn holds her Fukuji & Lum ohana close to her heart. From her first phone call with Mark, he told her “we are different here. We are a different kind of company.” Joce explains that she left the phone call confused, wondering what this could mean. Through the past years working as a vital member of the team, she has found exactly what makes this company so unique: the people. The community. The love. “I came to understand how close everyone is” and how the company is run, “caring for each individual staff member as if they were a member of their own family. They make sure people feel fulfilled, are happy, feel supported, and feel cared for and loved.” Jocelyn expressed how truly important this family is to her. This tribe that helps empower her to be the amazing light we know her as. From a quarantine filled with learning and serving others, to work days filled with smiles and empathy, we recognize Jocelyn. It is easy to understand why when asked to describe her, the words we hear are joyful, loving, compassionate, wise, kind hearted, luminous.

We love you Jocelyn! Thank you for all that you do!

By Deb Matsuura

A New Normal

“We sense that a new normal isn’t coming back, that we are being born into a new normal: a new kind of society, a new relationship to the earth, a new experience of being human” (Charles Eisenstein).

Things are changing around us. True to the nature of change itself, it is rapid and unpredictable. As humans, we tend to fear change. It challenges us, makes us uncomfortable, and forces us to modify our “normal.” In these particular times, our “normal” has been challenged more than ever. Our everyday lives have suddenly been entirely uprooted: routines thrown out the window and plans for the future in shambles. Grocery shopping has transformed from a mundane Sunday morning task, to a weekly mission out into a threatening world to hopefully replenish supplies. Celebrations, hugs, and gatherings have reduced to emails, calls, and “Zoom” meetings. Is our community gone?

As we sit in our living rooms binge watching Netflix or puzzling until our hands hurt, it is easy to feel alone. Isolated. In a world of social distancing, a sense of community feels lost. For the health of us and those around us, we must respect rules to stay 6 feet away, to cancel large gatherings, and to avoid physical touch. We must postpone weddings, cancel graduations, and host virtual birthday parties. These gatherings are lost. These events are absent. But the community isn’t.

Community is not the gatherings we host. Community is not the events we attend. Community is the people: the people who love, who support, and who care. The Oxford dictionary has many definitions of community, most beginning with phrases such as “a group of people..” or “a feeling of fellowship...” Funny enough, not one starts with a place or a thing. So although there are places we cannot travel to, and things we cannot do, we are not isolated. Our people are still there. Our people still love, still support, and still care. Let’s celebrate it.

Our Fukuji & Lum ohana wants to celebrate our community with acknowledgement and appreciation. We will begin spotlighting members of our team in blog posts to highlight how each member is sharing their love and light.

I would like us to think back to our retreat at the start of the year. As I think back, I remember a room full of people who I was still just meeting, with lots of unfamiliar faces warmly introducing themselves and encouraging me to share what I loved most about my new home here in Hawaii.  The energy and love of this group of people cued me into that I was joining something special. This was the start of a new adventure. Ironically, we spent that afternoon learning and reflecting on change and its impact in our lives. We all had different experiences with recent change: from becoming new parents to losing people dear to our heart. There was one commonality, however. From our change, came growth.

So, as we circle back to change, we recognize that it is uncomfortable and it is challenging. However, we also honor that these feelings, if acted upon, reap evolution and transformation. So how will we adapt to our change? How will we grow from it? We will soon see how our ohana are adapting to continue loving and growing as family. The change that is happening around us does not discriminate. Everyone must adapt. Everyone must find a new normal. In this shared experience, our community grows stronger. So as Eisenstein urges, let’s tap into our new normal. Let’s embrace our new society, relationship with earth, and our new experience being human.

With love and gratitude,

Maddie

By Hillary Lau

Aloha From An Alum!

Guest Post by Carla Shayman

 

I was a student of the Northeastern University physical therapy program and worked with Fukuji & Lum as a part of their co-op program. I learned so much from the whole team including treatment techniques but also how to manage a busy schedule with calm and patience. I learned how to put the aloha spirit into practice and embrace everyone I worked with from patients to colleagues.

Since graduating Northeastern, I worked for a year in South Carolina in an inpatient/outpatient mixed setting and have been living and practicing for the past four years in Spokane, WA. My clinical focus is outpatient orthopedics. I am a board certified orthopedic clinical specialist with a certification as a strength and conditioning specialist.

I am so passionate about living a physically active lifestyle and sharing that passion with others. This commitment led me to give a Ted Talk encouraging others and showing how to incorporate stretching into their daily lives.

I owe so much of my journey to my Fukuji & Lum family for teaching me and giving me my start!
By Deb Matsuura

NORTHEASTERN STUDENTS REFLECT ON COOP PROGRAM IN HAWAII

Emily W. Describes Coop Experience as "Transformative"

If I had to describe my experience working at Fukuji and Lum Physical Therapy, it would be: transformative. When deciding where to co-op, I was so nervous about traveling so far from home that I almost did not accept the offer. However, after spending 6 months at Fukuji and Lum I can honestly say that this experience has been the highlight of my life. It allowed me to gain a new perspective on not only physical therapy but also on myself and how I will choose to live going forward.

One of Fukuji and Lum’s mission statements is “to love and grow, as a family.” I find that the word family is often tossed around in flyers and ads without much significance, but at this clinic, they truly mean it. Before my trip, I was worried that I would be homesick living so far from my family and friends. However, this was never a problem because I had all the support and love that I needed right here. My co-workers went out of their way to make sure that we were adjusting well, even welcoming us into their homes for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

From the moment I arrived, I could tell that this clinic is an ‘Ohana in which people deeply care about one another, celebrating each other’s victories and being there as a support system during more difficult times. This was reflected both in the clinic with my co-workers as well as at home with my roommates. I did not know any of the other Northeastern co-op students before coming, but after living together, exploring the island, and sharing our thoughts and experiences with each other we left feeling as close as sisters. I feel so supported in life knowing that no matter where I end up, I will always have the other co-ops by my side as well as an entire group of therapists in Hawaii who will have my back and be there to give me advice when I need it.

In addition to welcoming me into their family, my mentors at F&L also had a significant impact on how I view the profession and my belief about what physical therapy is. They helped show me how to have a holistic approach and that PT is about treating the patient and not the injury. One of the therapists I worked with would ask every patient he met, “what do you love to do” or “what is your passion.” He then made it his mission to adapt the patient’s treatment to help meet individualized goals and ensure that they could get back to doing the activities that fuel their spirit and make them who they are.

At Fukuji and Lum, the therapists do everything in their power to make each patient feel valuable and give them the time and attention that they need. After talking with friends back home, I realized this is not always the case and is something that makes F&L special. I had one patient who would often come into the clinic feeling gloomy and down. After talking throughout the session while creating a positive and encouraging atmosphere, she would leave the clinic with her head held high and a smile on her face. Just knowing that we could help turn someone’s day around and make them feel better both physically and emotionally was incredibly moving and something that I did not realize was part of the job.

Additionally, the therapists I worked with were never narrow sighted and did not limit their attention to the exact location of the problem. Instead they helped me understand how everything in the body is connected and that sometimes you need to strengthen or re-align a different part of the body in order to address the source of pain/injury and help the individual return to their full functioning self.

One of the most surprising things that I did not expect to learn on co-op was how to be myself in a clinical setting. When professors discuss professionalism in class, it often makes it seem as if you have to act almost robotic and very serious in clinical settings. However,

the nurturing relationships that I formed with my co-workers allowed me to feel comfortable opening up and being myself in the clinic. I realized that I could still have a fun and goofy personality while remaining professional and gaining respect from patients. I think that letting down the walls that I had put up actually enabled me to become closer with my patients and form more genuine and trusting bonds, which can really alter how a patient responds to therapy.

One of the highlights of my experience inside the clinic was getting to form close bonds with some of my patients. One patient in particular was an elderly woman who even changed her schedule to make sure that she could come in on days that I would be working. Every week, we would spend the session talking about the different things going on in each other’s lives while going through various exercises. On my last day of co-op, the patient held my hand and looked me in the eyes as she thanked me for helping her get stronger because now she was able to leave the house and go to activities with her family. In that moment, I could feel how sincere the patient was and how much of a difference that therapy made in her life, which was by far one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had.

The best part of my experience outside of the clinic was getting to explore the island with my roommates. Every weekend we got to go on a new adventure, whether it was finding a new beach, learning to surf, experiencing a different part of Hawaiian culture/ history, or going on a hike. No matter what we did, the scenery was breathtaking and unlike anything else I had ever seen before. This helped me realize that there are so many opportunities and adventures in any place that you live if you make the effort to find them. Immersing myself in the culture and making the effort to explore and find so many new and exciting things changed my mindset of how I want to spend my time in life. I no longer want to waste so much time sitting around inside. I now know that I want to push myself to get out and discover different events and opportunities around me in any place that I live in order to get the most out of life.

The main takeaway that I have from this experience that is unique to co-oping at Fukuji and Lum is practicing physical therapy with the aloha spirit. This spirit is everywhere at the clinic, both within those working there as well as the patients. This positive and loving atmosphere pushed everyone to grow together which I believe leads to better patient outcomes. This is something that I will hold dear to my heart and carry with me as I try to live and breath aloha no matter what clinic I work in.

By Deb Matsuura

NORTHEASTERN STUDENTS REFLECT ON COOP PROGRAM IN HAWAII

How Maddie D. Feels About Hawaii and Working at F&L

Someone asked me the other day how I felt about my choice to come to Fukuji & Lum for co-op. My answers over the past two weeks to all the questions have been along the lines of “I learned so much, it was amazing!” or “I miss it so much!” or even “I’m so cold!!” This time, however, I came out with “it was the best decision I’ve made in my life so far.” After three weeks of being home and readjusting to school, friends, and yes, the cold (it’s in the single digits today!), I think that’s the easiest and most encompassing way to sum it up.

One thing that keeps circling around my brain is just how grateful I am for the last 6 months and working alongside everyone at Fukuji & Lum. During my time here, I stepped outside my comfort zone in every aspect of life and learned so much about the physical therapy profession and myself along the way. The experiences I had stretch so far beyond what I can sum up into a quick conversation.

 

Living in Hawaii and working at Fukuji & Lum, I was exposed to such a variety of people—from the patients to my coworkers and beyond—and they all gave me something to take home in terms of how I want to continue to live my life. Everyone was so willing to teach me about their personal culture and background, and all my coworkers were willing to teach me more about PT and give me a sense of what I’m working towards. I will never forget how many times Myra spent any downtime that popped up teaching me different joint and soft tissue mobilizations, tests, etc. and how much it meant to me. Or that time Brad gave us all printouts and taught us more about Graston.

At the end of the day though, the people who had the most impact on me at Fukuji & Lum were the other three co-ops who took on this crazy experience with me. None of our other classmates had the same experience of walking into the first day of classes and immediately finding each other to hug and reunite after only a week (or two, we missed you Em!) apart. Coming home from work every day to debrief on the cool, interesting, and sometimes really difficult things we saw and dealt with that day really fostered that passion for PT in all of us regardless of whether we were sitting on the couch talking about documentation or hiking a mountain discussing PRI.

Being so far away from home, we really found a family within Fukuji & Lum and most of all we found one in one another, and that is something I will forever be grateful for. I currently live with Jada and on our way to class in the mornings we’ll talk about some of our favorite memories, and it’s really hit me that some of the most “mundane” moments are what impacted me the most. I will forever miss car rides home from North Shore driving slower so that we can make it through our playlist, and on all our hikes when I’d talk to whoever was behind me and Emily would call “WHAT?” because she wanted to feel included. I’ll remember holidays at the Hyland’s or trying to help Mana with her crossword puzzles.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a word to sum up the last 6 months, and finally settled on: Explore. All the highlights of the experience are really centered around that theme. I explore the island: found hikes, places, and formed memories that will stay with me forever. Hiking 3 peaks for sunrise with Casey on her last weekend before going back to school was just such an epic adventure which left me feeling so happy for days. Hiking Pali Notches with Irish or paddling out to Chinaman’s Hat with Reyn were two other highlights, I’ll forever remember how cool it was to go see places that were on my bucket list with some of the awesome people I met here. And of course, skydiving!! Come on, we went skydiving not once but twice (or three times, Jada)! The sense of happiness I felt on all the adventures the island had to offer will always stick with me.

And in the clinic, that exploration continued. I really expanded my knowledge of the profession and of what it means to be a physical therapist. Watching the PTs interact with their patients and form those relationships really showed me what kind of therapist I want to become one day. And meeting the patients, listening to their stories, and being there with them on some of their best days and their worst days taught me a lot about compassion and the trust that exists between patient and provider. I learned so much about myself as a person in and out of the clinic, and I hope that I can continue to take these experiences forward with me as I progress towards my future career. Aloha a hui hou and mahalo nui loa, F&L!! Thank you for learning and growing as a family with me over the past half-year.

By Deb Matsuura

NORTHEASTERN STUDENTS REFLECT ON COOP PROGRAM IN HAWAII

Juliet H. Shares Her Six-Month Coop Experience

“Gratitude at Latitude 21 o ” It’s Saturday, December 28th, 2019 – the day I somehow thought would never come so I would get to stay in Hawaii and live the dream forever. I just watched the last glimpse of an Oahu blurred by tears fade into the horizon out the airplane window.

As I sit with a lei around my neck, a stomach full of poke, eyes filled with tears, and a heart full of gratitude, I cannot help but think back to the last time I was on a plane (okay, not really the last time, because that was for skydiving, but the last long plane ride) coming to what seemed like an unknown world.

I remembered how anxious and even scared I felt about having to make a home out of a place I did not know surrounded by people I had never met and how I had never even worked in a physical therapy clinic before.

Those fears subsided as I began to meet members of the Fukuji & Lum Ohana. First was Jocelyn – as she walked up our driveway to say goodbye to the previous co-ops and realized that we were the newbies, she radiated pure joy as she exclaimed “6 months, wooo!” and gave each of us the sweetest hug. Then there were Joy and Hillary who helped us settle in on orientation day with smiles and kind hearts, and Rachel Hyland who stopped by to meet us even though it was her day off. Mark and Jessie were so patient and kind when teaching me how to use WebPT and took every opportunity to explain how the clinic functioned to help me feel more comfortable with the new environment. Jamie and Tasha (and later Alissa) seemed like the coolest therapists ever and I wanted to be just like them. Ross offered to put my bike in the back of his truck and drive me home starting on my first day of work and continued to offer every day following. Everyone I met that day and in the days and months to come was welcoming, inclusive, and genuinely wanted to get to know me, offer a helping hand, and teach me something new.

I woke up every day grateful to go to work and for the first time in my life, I actually looked forward to Mondays. My typical Monday went something like this: wake up before the sun and bike to the clinic for 6am workout with Jamie, Janie, and Nicole, go for a run as the sun rises, shower and eat my breakfast at a picnic table overlooking the bay, and then head to the pool for the morning where I was greeted with hugs from coworkers and patients. I will never forget one of my first days of work when a pool patient was moved to tears after Rachel told her that her insurance had approved more sessions because “this was the only thing that was helping.” It was in that moment and in countless others like it that I recognized how special this profession is. After a morning filled with spinal decompression, gait training, core stabilizations and sunshine (or sometimes rain), I’d head to WORC for the afternoon. I lived for the days when Jamie would say to me okay, here’s what you should know about this patient, I tried x and y last time, depending how he’s feeling maybe try z today and then see what else you can come up with. I could hardly believe how much trust and confidence was placed in me.

I have always been a creative individual thanks to my dance background and I loved coming up with new exercises or tasks for patients to try. I did not realize how much I would enjoy working with the wide range of patients that WORC treats – from teenagers to elderly, from vertigo to Parkinson’s, from patients who were pretty much confined to table exercises to those that could do more kettlebell swings than me. I treasured the moments I got to spend with these patients and gradually became more confident in my ability to communicate effectively with them.

One of my favorite work memories was dressing up as the Village People with WORC and choreographing/singing our own version of the YMCA. Clearly our creativity extended beyond just making up new exercises to get patients back to work! And even though every day was not a dress up day (okay, it was only every other day in October for PT month), each day was an opportunity to learn a new skill, to meet a new patient, to ask questions, and to reciprocate the compassion shown to me by every person I was privileged to work with.

When we were not working, the co-ops and I spent every moment exploring. At the beginning of our time together, we would try to plan out our days and they almost never went as intended. Maybe we wanted to hike but it was raining, or a road on the way to our destination was closed because of a bush fire, or a hike took much longer than expected so we did not get to whatever we had planned for the rest of the day. The four of us with our east coast mentalities gradually became comfortable going with the flow and being grateful for the current moment. Whether it was Maddi’s adventurous spirit leading us on many hikes I never would have sought out on my own, Jada’s contagious laugh that made us laugh so hard our stomachs hurt for days, or Emily’s positive outlook on every situation and circumstance, we always had a good time together and helped each other to grow.

We pushed each other out of our comfort zones – we went skydiving, swam with sharks, and tried tons of new foods that we still cannot spell or pronounce. We travelled to Kauai and hiked Stairway to Heaven (the legal way). And while we did so many of these awesome, big things together, it’s the little moments that you cannot capture in a picture that I find myself most grateful for and will hold closest to my heart moving forward: singing silly songs to pass time on a long hike, sitting on the beach at night under the stars discussing our highs and lows of the week, playing cards on the side of H1 while waiting for Triple A and Colby to come save us after some car troubles, or riding home from Sunset Beach with the windows down and Wonderwall blasting from our cheap car speaker.

While I knew Hawaii would be beautiful, warm and filled with adventures, I did not realize how much I would come to love the people I met here and how incredibly hard it would be to leave them. I will never forget joining hands with coworkers to express gratitude for each other at our Thanksgiving potluck or singing Silent Night by candlelight at Christmas. I will never forget the patient who invited me to her home for Thanksgiving, or who arranged a hula lesson for me with her granddaughter, or who, after finding out it was my last day, returned to the clinic with a lei that he and his wife hand-picked flowers to make so that I “would remember my time in Hawaii.” I will never forget the morning workouts, the high-fives after making it through a long day, the meals we shared, the fun we had, and the patients we helped. But most of all, I will never forget how I instantly felt loved and accepted by the F&L Ohana for who I am. If a heart could explode from gratitude overload, mine certainly would. Mahalo nui loa to the Ohana for sharing your aloha spirit with me these past 6 months. I promise to keep it close to my heart and to pass it along to those I meet in the future. A hui hou.