By Abby

Warm Welcome to Our Fall NEU PT Students

Here's Ariane!

Ariane shares how yoga has helped her find a deeper connection with physical therapy and how it can relate to her approach when treating her patients. 

Hi everyone! 

My name is Ariane, I grew up in Brookline, MA and did my undergrad at Ithaca College in upstate New York. I am currently attending Northeastern University’s DPT program. The more I learn and the more I am immersed within the field of physical therapy, the more I know I’m in the right place. Although this is now, my initial draw to physical therapy came about during my yoga teacher training. During my training I was lucky to become part of an extraordinary community of women who I saw as both empowering and empowered. In the company of these women’s experiences, I found myself surrounded by mothers, survivors, teachers, clinicians, counselors, women from all walks of life and educational backgrounds, women who turned to yoga for far more than a physical experience.

My yoga teacher training opened my eyes to a new way of thinking about yoga and in turn a new way of thinking about health. Physical therapy has always resonated with me. What stood out to me was not only the holistic approach to healing, but also the emphasis on interpersonal communication and genuine connections with patients. 

I believe physical therapy is a practice that shows people just how capable they really are. 

I wanted to do my co-op in Hawaii because I wanted to get out of my bubble and step outside my comfort zone. I wanted to live and learn in a place that was not like what I knew. 

The kind of therapist I hope to be, is one who exudes openness and passion. I want to be the kind of therapist whose patients feel like they can be their true selves. I believe this fosters trust. I want to be a therapist that patients look forward to coming back to, who they want to update on their lives… of course I hope to be a great and knowledgeable practitioner too…but who doesn’t? A physical therapist is so much more than that. Most of all, I hope to provide a safe space for all those I treat. 

The greatest influences in my life are by far my parents. I have never known two people as selfless as they. To grow up and feel their love for me is the greatest gift in the world. My parents showed me everything I believe about the importance of kindness and respect. I hope to embody these values through my practice.

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

Introducing Co-op Jada!

We welcome Jada to the F&L O'hana. She works over at Kokokahi, at our Kaneohe clinic and Aquatic Therapy pool. Here's a little bit about Jada and her journey to becoming a PT student at NEU.

I attended Saranac Lake High School and currently attend Northeastern University. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to go to the Olympics for track & field. I had my heart set on being an olympian for a long time, so when I realized that it seemed like a long shot, I decided that if I couldn’t run in the olympics, I wanted to surround myself with people who did. I found out that physical therapy is such an incredible way to stay involved in athletics and be able to be a part of the athlete’s journey to success. 

 

I decided early on that I wanted to do a co-op outside of Boston because I love to travel and experience new places, and this was an opportunity to not only go somewhere beautiful, but to experience a completely new culture, climate, setting, and way of life. Doing a co-op in a place like Hawaii is really more than just a co-op. In addition to getting all of the amazing professional experience, we also get to explore a totally different part of the world in such a unique way. We only have a few opportunities to immerse ourselves in a totally new place so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity and make it count. 

My experience in Hawaii so far has been incredible. The patients at Fukuji & Lum have been amazing and are always ready to welcome us with food, plenty of suggestions and local tips & tricks to navigate the island. The staff has also been incredible, making us feel so welcome and like we really are a part of the family. One of the greatest things I’ve noticed about Hawaii so far is that the people here are so accepting of everyone. Regardless of your identity or what you look like, the locals treat everyone with respect and love and that is so inspiring. I can definitely understand why people don’t leave this place, it feels like home in the blink of an eye. 

The strangest thing I’ve eaten since arriving has probably been poke, just because I had never had it before and don’t even eat sushi at home! 

My to-do list is insanely long, but some of the big things are skydiving, ziplining, learning how to surf, and hopefully finding a way to hike stairway to heaven. 

One day, I hope to be a therapist working with world class athletes. Sports medicine is what lead me to physical therapy in the first place, so I can’t wait to see where that can take me. Whether I’m on the side of the track doing PT for olympic track athletes or on the ice being a team PT for a professional hockey team, I want to be right in the action. I hope to be the kind of therapist that these athletes trust to keep them strong and help them get back on their feet to continue doing what they love!

There are so many people that have influenced me and helped me become the person I am today. My biggest influences overall would have to be my family. My parents, grandparents and whole extended family have always been so supportive of me and have encouraged me to follow my interests. One of my biggest influences also has to be Allyson Felix, the Olympic track and field athlete. She is such an inspiration to me because of her work ethic, attitude and resilience. Following her journey has shown me how important it is to not let disappointments and failures keep you down!

Jada

By Deb Matsuura

F&L Fall Semester Co-ops Are Here!

F&L is very proud and excited to have four new Northeastern Co-ops this fall. They all wrote their own blogs and will be featured individually in our Happy at Work Blog throughout the month.

Let's meet Juliet! She will be working with our Work Comp/No Fault patients at WORC and learning all about Aquatic Therapy at our Kaneohe pool.

 

What school did you attend in high school and what's your current college?

I went to Kennedy Catholic High School in Westchester, New York, and I just finished my second year as an undergraduate in Northeastern’s 6-year DPT program.

What drew you to physical therapy?

As a lifelong dancer, I have always been fascinated by how the parts of the body work together to produce movement – whether it is as simple as reaching to the top cabinet to put a glass away or as complex as completing 16 consecutive pirouettes en pointe without losing balance. When I was an Achilles tendonitis patient in high school, I was intrigued by the multiple PT clinics I visited and therapists I worked with. Despite having positive experiences, I wished I had encountered a therapist with a dance background, and with that thought, I saw my future self as a potential solution to my situation. Since high school, I have spent time exploring by taking classes in anything that sparked my interest, from stem cells to food justice, and journalism to biopsychology, yet human anatomy remained front and center. I even had the opportunity to work in a biology research lab as a freshman in college, and while I loved the end goal of the lab’s work, pipetting and test tubes seemed far removed from the people I wanted to help. This quickly helped me to understand my desire to take my passion for biology, the body, and problem solving, and apply it in a way that would directly help people to return to an improved physical state. Every day, I return home from working in the clinic and the pool with a growing certainty that physical therapy is a profession that will not only give me a purpose, but more importantly, grant me the opportunity to help others return to their purposes.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?

I love to explore, and one of my passions is traveling the world to experience how people of different cultures live their daily lives. I had been to Hawaii with my family on vacation and I fell in love with the scenery but missed out on the culture; it’s tough to get a full cultural experience as a tourist. When I heard about a co-op opportunity that would allow me to be less of a tourist and more of a resident in a place that could not be more beautiful, it rose to the top of my list. Talking with the previous co-ops about their experiences at Fukuji & Lum only fueled my desire to live and work here even more. Hearing their stories about how welcoming the entire work community was and how much they learned about treating patients holistically resonated with my values and goals as a future therapist.

What has your experience been like so far?

My experience has been absolutely incredible. I come home from work every day in awe of how everyone really does seem to be “happy at work,” and I think of how lucky I am to be here. The entire F&L community has been so kind, welcoming, inclusive, and eager to help us learn, and patients have been so happy to work with us even though we are still beginners.  Time seems to fly in the clinic because there is always something to do – a patient to help, a new exercise or skill to master, a note to write, a conversation to have. One of the therapists convinced me to start coming for 6am workouts before the work day, and although I have never been a fan of early morning workouts, something about going in early and starting my day sweating with them has been such a positive experience. Outside the clinic, weekends are packed full of adventures: hikes, beaches, snorkeling, arts festivals, and more. I did not know the other co-ops very well before coming here and it has been fun getting to know them and to explore with them these past few weeks. I am so excited for the rest of this experience and will try to soak in as much as I can before returning to the Boston cold!

What's the strangest thing that you've eaten since arriving?

Lychee! It was extra special because it was from a coworker’s tree back home in Kauai. And although I would not consider it strange, poke is my favorite meal I have eaten (more times than I would like to admit) since arriving.

What is on your to do list while here?

My to-do list already seemed never-ending before I arrived, but after all the recommendations from patients and coworkers, I think I could live here for 6 years instead of 6 months and still not get to everything! The list includes too many hikes to name them all, skydiving, windsurfing & surfing, watch a surfing competition at the North Shore, lots of snorkeling, go to a luau, visit the Mermaid Caves, take a hula class, swim with sharks (maybe?), run the half marathon at Kualoa Ranch, try poke from every spot recommended by patients, go camping for a weekend, kayak to the Mokes, walk/swim out to Chinaman’s Hat… it really just never ends!

On a more personal level, I am really looking forward to using this time away from school and home to discover a greater purpose and to further develop goals for myself as a therapist. I am also hoping to impact the lives of patients and to give back to the community here, even if only in a small way. I’ll follow up on that in the final reflection!

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?

While I am still unsure of which route I would like to take within the PT field, I hope to be the therapist that my patients need at the moment in their lives that we happen to meet. While that is a lofty aspiration, I will work my hardest to make it a reality because every patient deserves a therapist who sees him/her not as an injury or condition, but instead as a person. I want to continue learning long after I graduate to keep up with the latest research that could potentially help my patients. I hope to be creative and to think critically like the therapists at WORC when they come up with exercises that mimic activities in patient’s work environments to help heal and strengthen them before they return to their jobs. I hope to be confident enough in my knowledge base to be able to adapt my style to fit various personalities and lifestyles that patients may lead – be more stern with some if necessary, humorous with others, a shoulder to lean on for someone who may need it at the time – and most of all, I hope to be empathetic and to help my patients understand that they are more than whatever injury or condition might be weighing them down.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?

My parents have always been the greatest influence in my life, although I am so fortunate to have met many other wonderful influences along the way, too. My mom’s compassionate, empathetic nature has allowed her to constantly support and encourage me and to instill in me the importance of giving back to the community. My dad has never stopped inspiring me to be intellectually curious – he reminded me every day before middle and high school that my end goal was to learn as much as I could from every situation, every textbook, every conversation. Whether it was playing the “hard question game” with me on rides to dance and gymnastics as a kid, taking long walks with me on the beach or in a foot of snow to talk things out, or sitting front and center at every dance recital, my parents have never stopped giving their all for me or being my number one fans. Mahalo, Mom and Dad!!

By Mark Yanai

Reflections and Gratitude

Aloha!

It is 35 degrees in Boston today. One of the milder days lately. Just wanted to put that out there :)!

I’m sitting in my room, looking at pictures and reading my journal. I remember the moment that I fell in love with the thought of this experience. It was a first-year meeting with my co-op advisor. I was interested in looking for a co-op in California, but was told that my closest option was a clinic in Hawaii… The dream of hiking, surfing, and being immersed in Hawaiian culture for six months was permanently etched into my mind.  

And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more excited, I saw Fukuji and Lum’s website, read the higher purpose, mission statement, values, and Mark’s blog… My heart had made its decision.

I remember the night that I landed in Hawaii. The mirror selfie with my first lei, first shaka, and a smile that couldn’t be wiped off my face. A whole lot of life has been lived since that moment. I’m not quite sure how to put all of it into words, so I’m just going to write for a few minutes and list a bunch of things that I loved and were meaningful to me as they come to mind… [/two_third_last]

I loved walking around barefoot everywhere, even getting the occasional ‘local feet’ compliment that boosted my ego and made me feel like I belonged. I loved having the time and space to journal everyday, which had been a goal of mine for years. I loved sitting by the water in Colleen’s backyard in the mornings, watching the sunrise and focusing on my breath. Sitting in the same place some nights and playing guitar under the stars… I loved kayaking to work –somedays a peaceful experience and other days a slightly more exciting/scary but equally awesome and meaningful one. I’ll be lucky if I can ever top that commute…

 

I loved the energy I felt when I walked into work every day. The high-fives, the laughs, the smiles. A whole lot of smiles. The spirit days that pushed me out of my comfort zone and occasionally ended with braids in my hair. I loved that we always seemed to be celebrating something or someone, and that potlucks were such a regular event. Curry Friday’s at work… The mochiko chicken was pretty incredible, but wasn’t nearly as awesome as the smiles, laughs, and ‘food comas’ that came with it.

I loved playing ukulele by the pool during breaks. I loved connecting with patients, learning Hawaiian and Pidgin words from them, hearing their stories, and playing a role in their recovery, no matter how small. I loved that I was able to play basketball every week with a beautiful view and even better company.

 

I loved surfing (a.k.a. lots of paddling around, getting tossed by waves, and occasionally catching one), hiking, learning ukulele, traveling to outer islands, getting to know a lot of really incredible people, and building professional and personal relationships that are far from over… Most of all, I loved that I was able to share this experience with four other awesome students, who added so much value to my life over the last six months.

 

I love highlights, but one of my favorite parts of this experience was that it was so real. I still experienced stress, overwhelm, indecision, frustration, sadness, self-consciousness… I even had one week when I managed to lose my brand-new GoPro, almost sink on my commute to work, and donate my iPhone to the ocean in the process (although I did find this unintentional technology cleanse pretty enjoyable ☺). These were often the days and moments that I learned the most about myself, so I’m grateful for them too.

My time in Hawaii was deeply meaningful to me and has impacted me in many ways that I probably haven’t even realized yet. What I do know is that it helps me remember to slow down, to appreciate where I am and who I’m with in this moment, and to always strive to ‘live aloha’ through compassion, serving others, and spreading positive energy. I felt more comfortable ‘being me’ over these last six months than I have felt in a very long time, which is funny because I stuck out so much. Red hair, inability to tan, and all. I’m not sure exactly what allowed me to do that, but I think it has a lot to do with the aloha and Fukuji and Lum’s culture…

It was a blessing to work for a company with such a strong, positive, and transformative culture and vision. I am so grateful that my path led me here, and grateful for everyone at Fukuji and Lum who showed us co-ops so much love and aloha and welcomed us as a part of the Ohana. I love how you all approach life and physical therapy…

Mahalo for being a part of my journey. A Hui Ho, Hawaii!

Matt

By Mark Yanai

Being Present for the Future

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There are many moments in our lives that mark significant milestones of achievement. It is in these past few months that many of these milestones have presented themselves, leaving strong emotions and memories that will stay with me forever.

My blog posts have slowed in recent months. My life has become filled with travels and milestones like everyone else’s. It began in May when my entire family traveled to California to watch my nephew, Matthew, graduate from Chapman University. A fun week of graduation activities was sprinkled with visits to Disneyland and Universal Studios.

Markfam1 Markfam

The trip continued with a flight to Portland and drive to McMinnville where we celebrated my eldest son, Kaleo’s, graduation from Linfield College. After four years of multiple trips to Oregon, this last travel to McMinnville was the most enjoyable and memorable. Watching Kaleo walk up to the podium and receive his diploma was a definite proud father moment.

Being present at both graduations brought on a tremendous sense of pride. As my family sat in the stands and watched each moment, we all felt more connected and we all shared in the accomplishment. During the trip, my wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary while my mom celebrated her 80th birthday. It seemed surreal that all of these milestones would occur within a two-week period.

[one_half] Fast forward to this week when one of our employees, Ryan, completed his employment with F&L. Ryan was accepted to Western University in Pomona, California and began graduate school in August to attain his doctoral degree in physical therapy. Ryan was originally a patient with F&L while he was in high school. His experience with us led to a four-year period of volunteering in the summers while at Pacific University. After graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science, Ryan accepted a job with us as a front office receptionist and PT technician, a role that he’s filled while building his resume for graduate school.

We celebrated Ryan’s last day at work with party and mini-golf tournament at Bay View Golf Course. With over 40 people in attendance, we all got to recognize his contributions to the organization and wish him well in his new adventure. As the F&L family gathered, I felt the same feelings of pride and connection to Ryan and the rest of the group. [/one_half]

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We often tell ourselves that there’s our work family and then there’s our real family. For F&L we strive to change that perception and our Higher Purpose is “to love and grow, as family.” By sharing common values, we want our employees and patients to feel safe and supported, that whatever accomplishment they work toward, it will be through collaboration and love. If we can create that in our small organization, we can share it with the rest of the world.

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By Deb Matsuura

Meeting Matt

Every six months, F&L gets a new crew of Co-Op students from Northeastern University. I get to interview each of the applicants three months ahead of time and typically do it through video conferencing. The application process is usually over a two-week period as we interview and consider at least ten to fifteen applicants.

I was fortunate to interview Matt as the first applicant. We immediately connected as we had several common interests and I knew before the end of the interview that he would be offered a position. One of the most important things we look for when choosing a Co-op, is someone who shares common values with our organization and whose personal purpose matches our Mission statement. I definitely saw these values in Matt and look forward to watching him grow and challenge himself in everything he does while here with us.

Get to know him as he guest blogs for us!

What high school did you attend and what’s your current college?
I went to Tabor Academy in Marion, MA for high school, and I am now at Northeastern University studying physical therapy.

Tabor pic TheTaborAcademySeal

What drew you to physical therapy?
I pretty much stumbled upon it… As a high school basketball player, I had to go to PT for a few different injuries, but I never thought of pursuing it as a career. I ended up applying to nine schools for exercise science before I found Northeastern University and fell in love. The closest thing they had to exercise science was physical therapy, so I figured I would apply for that. It wasn’t until after I had applied that I started to reflect more on my experiences with physical therapy and realized the potential for an incredibly fun, impactful, and rewarding career. Since then, I’ve found more and more things that I love about it.

Why did you want to do your co-op in Hawaii?
A little over a year ago, I was sitting in my advisor’s office and asked if there were any coop sites in California. My personality was beginning to shift a bit from high school. I was becoming more laid back, and the west coast lifestyle was something I wanted to experience. My advisor replied, “Unfortunately, we don’t have any in California, but we do have one in Hawaii”. I immediately knew where my heart was. I love experiencing and living in new cultures very different from my own, and Hawaii has one of the most beautiful, diverse cultures in the world. I knew that I would be able to experience the laid-back vibe that I was looking for in the west coast, and be able to immerse myself in the food, music, dancing, surfing, hiking, and beautiful people of this island at the same time. It was a pretty simple decision for me… matt2

What has been your experience like so far?
I am in love 🙂 I’ve only been here for just over two weeks and have experienced very little, but it’s easy to see how special this place is. Kayaking to work was just a catchphrase a few weeks ago, but is a beautiful reality now. Playing pickup basketball with co-workers on Monday nights and walking outside in between games to one of the more beautiful views I’ve ever experienced is surreal. Probably the most special part so far has been the people I’ve met: patients, staff at Fukuji and Lum, locals… The Aloha spirit has been more welcoming than I ever could have imagined.

What’s the strangest thing that you’ve eaten since arriving?
I would have to say poi. I had it with some Spicy Ahi poke and loved it. I know that is a pretty disappointing ‘strangest food’, but I’ll keep working on it 🙂

What is on your to do list while here?
Soooo much. I want to surf a lot, do as many hikes on Oahu as possible, learn Ukulele and Guitar, learn Hula, get a tan (this one is more wishful thinking), kayak into work most days, absorb lots of knowledge at work, not cut my hair, eat an excessive amount of poke and other delicious Hawaiian foods, learn some Hawaiian and Pidgin, and hopefully have a positive impact on many of the people I come into contact with. I’m excited!

What kind of therapist do you hope to be?
I want to become a master of eliminating pain and helping people live the lives that they dream of. Of course, I want to be able to make people feel better (which is why I also want to become massage certified), but I also want to educate and empower them to take charge of their own recovery and wellness. I want to be the type of therapist that takes a genuine interest in patient’s lives and goals and does their best to empathize and really understand what the their patients are going through, both physically and emotionally. And finally, I would love to incorporate my love of traveling and experiencing new cultures in there too, however possible.

Who is your greatest influence in your life?

I’ve had so many, but my greatest influence is hands down my family. I am blessed to have two parents from very different backgrounds and an incredible older sister that have loved and supported me through everything –even this ‘growing my hair out’ stage (although it is really tough for my dad!)… But on a serious note, they have taught me so much about accepting myself and the power of unconditional love, and anything I am able to accomplish in my life will stem off of the foundation that they’ve built for me.

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By Deb Matsuura

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!

[one_half] 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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