By Hillary Lau

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!


By Hillary Lau

A Reflection on the Co-Op Experience


Six months flew by and Olivia tells us how her experience in Hawaii will impact her long-term career in physical therapy. 

Aloha 🙂 I’m back on the blog, but from halfway across the globe. It has been a month and a few days since I left the best place on earth... and I miss it so, so much. Six months flew by incredibly fast, but I will remember my time with so much love and gratitude.

Who had the most impact on you during your time here?
I can’t pick one person. To say that I was impacted by every single person I met here, would be an understatement. First, I’ll start with my Kailua and Aqua crew. The clinicians and staff I worked with had an amazing depth of knowledge they shared with me, and I learned so much not only about physical therapy, but about life, relationships, confidence, spirituality, and connection.

I am so thankful to have learned from people I look up to, and now call them 'ohana. I learned a lot from the patients I worked with here too. They gave me great recommendations on how to have fun in Hawaii and what foods to try (shoutout Redfish poke bar). More importantly, they showed me that however big or small you help someone doesn’t matter, what matters is that you are trying to give to something bigger than you. So, I can make a mosaic from what I’ve learned from everyone that I met here and make a beautiful piece of art with it.

If you had to choose one word about your experience, what word would you choose?
Presence. There’s so much depth in this word for me. First, living on aloha time speaks for itself. Not that life is slower in Hawaii, but everyone is more ~present~, and they are deliberate with how they spend their time. One of my favorite things about Hawaii was that the people won’t avoid eye contact with you when you pass them on the street, they will smile and wave. Just a mere five seconds of human connection made such a difference in my day. Second, the environment brings you down to earth and makes you see life in abundance. From sunrise to sunset and everything in between, there were so
many creations to be grateful to witness. My favorite memories were made with my friends as we chased the sun and made it out to China Walls to spend the last few minutes with the sun that day, and so many people had the same idea. It was like we were in an outdoor movie theatre that played a golden sun set, and everyone felt present in it. So, not only does your presence matter to those around you, but you feel present in what’s happening around you.

From this experience, what intentions will you have going forward with your career?
I intend to take a whole body, and whole person approach going forward with my physical therapy career. I think this makes a huge difference in practice, as it allows you to evaluate a bigger picture and give rise to all the parts of someone that make them, them. This was my favorite foundational belief of F&L, and I will take it with me in my soon to be physical therapy career.

Best six months ever!!

Mahalo nui loa,