A Seventh-day Adventist Organization

Student Reflection - Catherine

China Reflection Essay
By Catherine, Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate student

I clearly remember holding a little girl with a serious and debilitating seizure disorder at ZUCH, reflecting on why we use the term “medically fragile” to describe children like her.  There’s nothing fragile about them.  They are tough and they are resilient, sometimes with a wisdom in their eyes that exceeds their language abilities and their young age.  If sick non-verbal children could only talk, I wonder all the stories and nuggets of truth they could tell us about what it is like to suffer and to suffer well.  This little girl brought me to that realization, as she struggled to even keep her head up but as she maintained a spirit of effortful motivation and even joy through the activities I did with her.  It blew my mind.  It reminded me that kids like her are universal.  They are everywhere.  And I am honored and humbled to offer even just a small bit of what I love to do whether I am at Zhejiang University Children’s Hospital or anywhere else. 

Little memories like the one above will live on in my conscience and heart forever, and I pray they come to mind when I am experiencing moments of weakness myself so that I may feel strengthened and encouraged to keep on. 

Shortly before this trip, I faced some realities in my life that were exceptionally painful, scary, and frustrating.    I felt fear like I had not felt in years. When I arrived in China, and saw the grace, love, and bravery that not only all these children exhibited, but also that my professors, fellow students, and hospital staff showed, I felt brave again.  There is a restorative nature of being around people who care for you and believe in you, and I felt a deep sense of renewal as I was able to work and observe in the hospital here with colleagues and friends that I hold dear.  I came back, not as the same person, but as one who will be forever enlightened and touched by the beauty I experienced in this country.  There are simply not enough words in our language to describe the gifts that I received.  Truly, we hope to give as speech pathologists, but we receive more than we ever expect from those we interact with. 

This trip was no exception to that, and I am forever grateful to Loma Linda that opportunities such as this one are available to us, as well as to the lovely team of professors and students who I was so fortunate to be able to experience it with.