Work the World
Work the World Programs
Work the World Reviews
The program also offers opportunities to explore local areas
Submitted by David Li - - | February 10, 2017
Earlier this year in the middle of January, I – along with 9 of my dentistry classmates – embarked on a trip with Work the World. We chose to take our placements in Iloilo, a small city towards the south end of The Philippines. The opportunity to volunteer and gain experience overseas has always been an attractive prospect to students at Griffith, and after meeting a few representatives from Work the World at a trade show run by the school’s student society, we got a group together and organised the trip.
The lead up to the trip was surprisingly relaxing. 9 times out of 10, every time I travel overseas I end up panicking at the last minute over whether I’ve forgotten anything. Thankfully Work the World set up an online trip planner detailing what needed to be sorted out and when by. Logical and systematic, it’s exactly what someone as disorganised as myself needed. The team also give you occasional phone calls in the lead up to the trip, mainly to ascertain your areas of interest to ensure that you get the exposure you’re looking for during your program.
In the build-up to the trip my friends often joked that because I was so tanned, I’d blend in perfectly with the locals. Funnily enough when I arrived in The Philippines, it became obvious people thought I was a local but I still felt out of place! The Assistant Program Manager from the Work the World house was sent to greet us at the airport. As far as first impressions went, they were honestly the warmest and loveliest people, and took us to the WtW house.
If there is one thing that I would encourage above all else to future students, it would be to keep an open mind and be adventurous. Immerse yourself in the local culture and do not be afraid to try new things.
The Work the World is a place I certainly won’t forget. Housed with fellow interns from all over the world and being treated to the legendary cooking of our private chef, our home was never short of fun; whether it was playing Cards Against Humanity, stargazing on the roof at night time or Thursday Karaoke and BBQ nights. Those who choose Iloilo for their placement are also blessed to have the Work the World Staff; they were never short on ideas on things to do, places to explore and some of the best karaoke voices I’ve heard in my life. I went to Iloilo with the goal of immersing myself in the local culture as much as I could and the staff played a big role in giving me new ideas and things to try!
The placement itself started with an introduction from the local head of department who gave us a run-down on local statistics. For me, it hit quite hard getting to grips with just how different the standards were from back home. Of course, it was never going to be the same but the gulf was so much more dramatic than I originally imagined. In a way, I suppose this gave me a sense of accomplishment in thinking that I was making some sort of contribution to a bigger task.
I was paired up with my own supervisor and the experience I gained from there on out was invaluable. For fun, my supervisor challenged me to try a local delicacy called Balut which is a boiled 16-day old fertilized duck egg! Surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Would I try it again? Probably not, but at least I can now say with pride that I gave it a go and that mentality of trying new things is how you’ll get the most out of the trip.
The program also offers opportunities to explore local areas. Our group decided to visit Antique (pronounced an-tee-kay), a small coastal town about 4 hours’ bus ride from Iloilo. We spent the weekend swimming in volcanos, fishing at dawn with the locals, flying across valleys on zip lines and mingling with the local children. I’m 99% sure a couple of my friends unwittingly adopted a few sons and daughters. If there is one thing that I would encourage above all else to future students, it would be to keep an open mind and be adventurous. Immerse yourself in the local culture and do not be afraid to try new things. It’s certainly very different to what you’ll be used to but how you choose to respond to that is purely up to you. You can choose to spend your spare time locked in your bedroom on your phone. or you can explore! The world is your oyster!
I made so many unforgettable memories
Submitted by Veronica Pletiak - - | February 10, 2017
I had an unforgettable and invaluable experience with Work the World. All the staff, students and locals have been extremely friendly to me and have gone the extra mile to help me get the most out of my trip. I have had such an incredible experience here and have made so many lifelong friends in my short three weeks, as well as drastically improving my confidence and clinical skills. I would recommend students undertake their placement with Work the World, you won’t regret it.
I have just finished my three-week placement with work the World. I chose to do a placement with this organisation because I had been interested in studying abroad, however such an opportunity did not exist for my degree. It was not a course requirement for me to undertake a clinical placement, but when I heard about the opportunity I couldn't resist.
A major reason to choose this destination is the friendly culture here, where everyone genuinely wants to say hi and help you out in whatever way they can. It's such a breath of fresh air and something that I initially found quite hard to get used to. I arrived in Iloilo late in the evening and was greeted straight away by a member of the Work the World team who was easy to find in her blue ‘Work the World’ shirt. We took a taxi to the house. During the ride, she debriefed me on my placement and the week ahead.
At the hospital, we met the key staff member for our placement at the hospital. He gave us a tour of the grounds to visit numerous wards, and provided us with interesting information about the hospital.
On our city orientation, we were taken to the tourism office where we were advised of the great attractions in Iloilo City in addition to other 'must see' locations around the Philippines. We then went to SM city, the main shopping centre near the house to get some essentials like SIM cards, which are cheap and I would recommend getting. We were taken to have traditional Filipino food for lunch and then had the opportunity to walk back home along the esplanade, which was very nice. I found that the orientation was not only a great way to introduce me to my placement location and co-workers, but also to help me to get my bearings around the city.
By the end of the first day in the hospital, I had gained loads of experience, which was the real reason for me coming on this placement. I felt a great sense of accomplishment having worked so successfully with the welcoming local hospital staff already, especially on my first day.
There are numerous differences that I observed between the clinics in the Philippines and those in Australia. The main difference being the significantly lower standards of infection control. Make sure you take plenty of alcohol gel with you!
Whilst on placement, I was also performing research for my third-year. For my research, I was considering the differences between the healthcare systems in Australia and the Philippines. For data collection, I interviewed patients and staff about the healthcare system, access to care and patient views on care. I had a great response for my research and found that most patients were highly proficient in English. Only for a handful of participants did I have to speak in Hiligaynon that Work the World’s language teacher helped me learn and translate. I found that through doing this research I could fully grasp the healthcare system, which aided in providing me with such a well-rounded placement.
Another fantastic memory that I will take home is the great relationship that I have built with my mentor. She took the time to get to know me and even went above and beyond her duty, inviting me to her family's house for lunch numerous times where I got to experience home-cooked Filipino food, and culture. The family was so lovely to me and told me that I am welcome to stay with them anytime and that their family is my family.
Other than my clinical experiences, I have had a great time travelling around the Philippines. I visited Boracay twice, once for New Years and a second time with 14 other students where I had the opportunity to go parasailing. I also visited Guimaras during my stay, which is a beautiful hidden gem of an island. It is an amazing place for island hopping and has the best mangoes. I would recommend you visit both Boracay and Guimaras because they are such beautiful areas in the Philippines where I made so many unforgettable memories. There are still so many places that I want to visit in the Philippines, so you won’t ever be bored or lack ideas of where to go whilst over there.
If you turn up with an open mind, you will love the whole experience
Submitted by Kevin Zhang - Melbourne University | February 10, 2017
My name is Kevin Zhang and I am a student from Melbourne University, Australia. I travelled on a Work the World program at the end of the year before I was about to head into the final year of my degree.
The reason I chose Work the World (WtW) was that I compared a few different organisations that offer student placements and it seemed like WtW had the most positive reviews and the most attractive website. I chose Iloilo, the Philippines, because I thought having most of the population able to speak and understand English would make my placement a lot easier. It did for sure.
The WtW house is amazing and the staff are very helpful. The Program Manager and assistant are the nicest people you will meet and they can help you with everything from solving placement issues to how to wash your socks like a local. I’m convinced that the house chef is the best cook in South-East Asia. He’s just so passionate about what he does. If, like me, you have only lived in colder places throughout your life, having only fans in the house can initially be a challenge. However, by the third night my body seemed to magically adapt to the heat, and sleeping wasn’t an issue from then on. As there are heaps of board games, books and areas to hang out in the house, you’ll never get bored. The Internet is not as slow as I initially believed it would be, and to me it was fast enough for everything. Every Thursday night — BBQ night — is like Christmas, with so much good food and drink, and of course always some sort of night out after the feast.
The supervisors are fantastic. Mine even introduced me to his family, which made me feel like a part of the team and culture. Be prepared to see things done differently and have an open mind about it. Things are done the way that is best for the specific situations. You’ll certainly learn a few different techniques! Lastly, make sure you stay proactive because that’s exactly how you can gain the most out of the experience.
As far as the traveling options go, in the Philippines you will mostly hear about Boracay island, Guimaras island or Antique (an-tee-kay), so instead I’ll tell you something about scuba diving. I planned to do an open-water PADI course while in the Philippines, so I considered different places and courses. It’s more expensive in popular regions like Boracay and Cebu and cheaper in lesser-known areas like El Nido, Coron and Bohol. Per research, the places that are worth diving in are Coron (the wreck diving capital) and El Nido (value and you can also experience the natural beauty of Palawan). I booked a 3-day course in Coron (you can ask for a discount, don’t be shy), which included everything apart from accommodation. I was also going to be one-on-one with the instructor and would do two wreck dives on the 3rd day.
Last, but not least, the food is delicious and plentiful. Eating out is very affordable, so take advantage of the array of delicacies that Iloilo offers.
In short, if you turn up with an open mind, you will love the whole experience.
A big thank you goes out to the Work the World team in Iloilo
Submitted by Brendan Clarnette - - | February 10, 2017
An overseas elective is not a requirement for my course, but I chose to travel to Iloilo with Work the World, both as a holiday and as a valuable learning experience. Work the World made planning simple and made me feel safe both in the lead up to my arrival and during my stay. The staff at the house are fantastic and go out of their way to make sure you are not just surviving, but loving your time in Iloilo.
I was lucky enough to arrive at a time when the house was busy with 20 students living there. This made the experience very enjoyable as it was great to hear about everyone’s experiences and to have people to go on short or long trips with. My initial few days were focused on getting me familiar with my surroundings. Work the World gave me comprehensive orientation sessions about the house, the city and my placement. Language lessons in the house were also very helpful — it’s easy to pick up the basics you need to know from the language tutor. However, most people do speak English well, so you never feel isolated. The people in general are very friendly and helpful.
It was great to have other students around as well, to share stories and experiences with and to learn from. I came away from my clinical experience with much improved skills and I am much more confident in my abilities now.
I would encourage anyone travelling to Iloilo in future to take the opportunity to explore. I did get to visit a local resort, which was lovely, as well as many areas of the city itself. The Philippines is a great place for a holiday. The weather was great and most things were surprisingly cheap. The Assistant Programme Manager will help inform you about possible travel opportunities, so make the most of their advice and your time off! Whilst the home-cooked food in the house is fantastic, Iloilo is a food destination in the Philippines and there are many places to try out new delicacies.
A big thank you goes out to the Work the World team in Iloilo. They made me feel at home in Iloilo and my experience would not have been as enjoyable without their help and support.
Come with an open mind
Submitted by Abhayjit Dhillon - - | February 10, 2017
Patient outcomes can be challenging, and infection control conditions are lacking. You quickly learn to accept that the way of doing things here is not wrong but just different to what you are used to, it’s eye-opening.
So too is the culture. The conditions some Filipino people live in and the amount of money they earn is so different to what we are used to back home. Most have so little but are always so welcoming and generous. My advice is to learn some of the language - it makes people happy when you try to speak to in the native tongue!
Staying at the Work the World house was a great experience. The staff at the Work the World house are also always happy and friendly. Look out for the chef who works at the house — this guy can cook! I met a lot of other lovely people who were doing their elective here too.
Come with an open mind and you will go home a changed person and in my experience, a more skilful practitioner.