This past spring, a group of Occupational Therapy graduate students and faculty members traveled to various locations in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to study the health care system. Although the special emphasis was on rehabilitative care, the group also found opportunities to study a variety of cultural and historical venues.
Running from February 25 to March 4, 2012, the course “Global Health Perspectives” was led by Brenau OT faculty members Drs. Irma Alvarado and Mary Shotwell. It included visits to urban, mid-urban, and village health centers, special education schools, a state-of-the-art children’s rehabilitation center, two programs for the elderly, a village “bone doctor”, and a spiritual shaman/healer. Also highlighting the trip were visits to the University of Yucatan School of Rehabilitation Therapy, and Marist University, where Brenau students had the opportunity to join Yucatan OT and PT students to hear several brief lectures by Brenau faculty, chat, and enjoy a pizza party.
In addition to their health-related educational experiences, the group visited several other natural, cultural and historic sites. At the Celestun Biosphere Reserve on the northwestern coast of the Yucatan, the group saw hundreds of beautiful rare migratory birds and swam in chilly springs that ring the coastal river. Later, the group spent 2 days at the Helen Moyers Biocultural Reserve at Kaxil Kiuic, of which Brenau is a member of the consortium of sponsoring universities who share the use of this unique self-sustaining environment. Kaxil Kiuic includes an important active Mayan archeological excavation site around which the Brenau group was taken on a guided hike by Reserve Director, James Callaghan. A guided tour of the major Mayan city of Uxmal was enjoyed by the group, as well as opportunities to experience the sites, food, and shopping of downtown Merida, Yaxachen, Oxcutzcab, Tikul, and Progreso Beach.
Brenau faculty members Jenene Craig, Debi Hinerfeld, and Susan Stallings-Sahler also accompanied the group and presented lectures at Marist University.
Brenau wishes to thank Dr. James Callaghan, Director of Kaxil Kiuic; Russell Arcillo, MD of IUADI, Dr. Raul Sales of Marist University, Mariana Guemez, OT; Nayelli Hijuelos, OT, and all of the many other hosts who helped to make the trip so special and informative.