NIU audiology professor King Chung and four of her undergraduate and graduate students recently returned from a goodwill and learning trip to Hong Kong, where they exchanged ideas with scholars and medical experts, provided free hearing tests to underserved residents and visited local landmarks.
During the two-week stay this summer, Chung and the students provided free hearing tests to participants with special needs, ranging from childhood ages to adults.
“It was a good experience for the students to see first-hand the system of medicine in a country other than the United States,” Chung said. “This is the second trip I have lead to Asia. Last year I took students to Taiwan and it was just as fascinating and educational.”
A highlight of the trip for the students included the opportunity to screen and test with other audiology students from Hong Kong University.
NIU undergraduate audiology student Alyssa Pursley of Harmon, Ill., described her experience of working next to the Hong Kong students as inspiring.
“It was an amazing experience to watch students from another culture work with the special needs populations that we were testing. Even though there was a huge language barrier, we could all still understand exactly what they were trying to accomplish with the participants, because we all went there with the same goals.”
“Sometimes it was a challenge to work with students with special needs,” said graduate student Brittany Camillo of St. Louis. “When we explained to them what the tests involved we had to convince them we were not giving them shots. Some thought the test would hurt them. However, it was a life-changing experience. I learned so much about and from that population. It was a very heart-warming experience that I would recommend to anyone.”
Camillo is studying audiology. She and her classmate Perrine Pham, of Aurora, finished data collection of their capstone research project during the trip. They will analyze the data to examine the prevalence of hearing loss among individuals with special needs in Hong Kong.
Additionally, the students also collected information from residents of two recreational drug rehabilitation centers. They brought the data back to NIU and will analyze it in the next few months to determine how long-term drug use to medications such as the sedative, ketamine, causes hearing problems.
Further, the students observed a delicate otosclerosis surgery and a cochlear implant surgery in a government-run and a private hospital. Both repair hearing loss. They also toured a private and a government audiology clinic. These are rare opportunities to get to know the medical practices and systems in other countries.
Pham said she learned and saw things on the trip she never could never learned nor seen in a classroom.
“The city was so busy with buses and taxies, and the night markets were flooding with food stands and clothing. It was a great experience and I highly recommend to anyone who has a chance to study abroad. Go for it!”
by Gerard Dziuba