Work the World Participant 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.
Submitted by Amy Alger-Green - - | February 10, 2017
We’re a little apprehensive on our first day at the clinic. Especially after trying to get a jeepney. On arrival, everyone was friendly and told us where to go. We met our supervisors at the orientation, so we knew who we would be working with, which was lovely.
On the first morning, I was worried about how different things would be but my supervisor helped me get to grips with local procedures and techniques me, with real guidance every step of the way.
Our afternoons were filled up with trips to local day centres and elementary schools. The kids were fascinated by us but behaved very well, which we weren’t used to at home! We managed to do quite a lot in one afternoon, so the experience was invaluable.
Language lessons in the house were put into full effect when trying to give a health presentation to some patients, and even if we said something silly, they seemed to enjoy it anyway.
Over all, it’s been an incredible experience, both at the Work the World house and at the clinic. We received a lot of support from everybody, and I’m sad that I’m leaving, as I would have loved to stayed for much longer.
I had a life changing experience
Submitted by Katie - - | September 08, 2016
I chose Work the World for my Nursing elective as they had a fantastic reputation and I was confident that they would co-ordinate my placement efficiently (I was right). As well as this, they advised and helped plan my flights, insurance and visas.
They provide a comprehensive service which caters to all needs and will tailor your placement so you can achieve any academic targets you may need to achieve. Throughout this whole process, I was given a lot of extremely useful information and felt supported at all times.
I decided to travel to Sri Lanka by myself as I wanted some life experience and to also practice nursing in a country which was diverse and exciting. I spent the first weekend in Colombo by myself before I met Work the World’s Assistant Program Manager (APM) at the train station. It was amazing. I spent most of my time trying new food, meeting the locals and relaxing by the beach. So, don’t be scared to try new things by yourself!
After meeting the APM at the station on Sunday, we took the train to Kandy. The APM informed me of my placement, the hospital and lots of fun activities that I could participate in which comforted me greatly. The train journey is about three hours in total, but with spectacular views of the countryside, villages and tea plantations, you’ll wish it could last longer. After arriving in Kandy, the APM took me to the Work the World house to meet my new friends. The house is incredibly beautiful, so you’re in for a real treat! The balcony in the house has the most outstanding view of Kandy, with sun sets that take your breath away. After meeting the staff and housemates we went for lunch. The APM then booked a Tuk Tuk so I could have a private tour of Kandy. All of this helped me feel part of the team and unwind.
On my first day of placement, the Program Manager picked me up at the house and drove me to the hospital. He took me on a tour and we visited all the children’s units that I would be working in. He also gave me lots of valuable information on the hospital, its policies and working hours, as well as encouraging me to keep an open mind. I spent 5 weeks in total working in the general hospital, and during this time I visited the Children’s Surgical Unit, Paediatric Intensive Care, Theatre, the Children’s Medical Unit, the Sick Baby Unit and the Lactation Management Centre. I had an extremely varied and diverse 5 weeks at the hospital. The hospital is incredibly busy, hot, and at times a little overwhelming. But the staff are fantastic and will help you along the way. My advice is that with every bad day, comes a really great one! No day is ever the same, but it is so worth it in the end.
When my fellow housemates and I had afternoons free, we explored Kandy. Kandy is a brilliant and vibrant city with lots of fun and exciting activities to do. This includes: exploring the markets and sari shops, visiting the Temple of the Tooth, lazing in the sun after a long walk to the Buddha on the hill, trying our hand at Kandy Dancing and eating lots of delicious food! Making the most of weekends and organizing trips around the country was another important element of my elective. I visited Trinco, Bentota, Ella, Dambulla, Polonnurra, Unwattuna & Colombo. So, book up and enjoy exploring! Sri Lanka is such an amazing, beautiful, exotic and outstanding country. There is so much to do so don’t miss out!
Overall, I had a life changing experience in Sri Lanka. I made some amazing new friends and learned a lot about the country’s developing healthcare system. It has changed me as a person and I can’t thank Work the World enough for giving me this unforgettable experience.
Thanks for the experience Work the World!
Submitted by Natalie - - | September 08, 2016
From the start of my nursing course at Bournemouth University, I knew that I wanted to spend my elective in a developing country. I knew it would be the perfect way for me to gain confidence in not only my practical skills but my communication skills too.
Going on my own was initially a daunting prospect but on arrival, the World the World Assistant Program Manager was there waiting at the airport. She gave me a big smile, a really warm welcome and I immediately felt safe. We spent the first night in Negombo and then the next morning got the train up to Kandy – an experience in itself. The dawn train ride took us up through the hills and tea plantations. It was Beautiful.
Travelling alone was a slightly daunting prospect but I was lucky to have the support from the Work the World staff who became like my adopted family. With the help of the staff, I learnt where to go shopping, what foods I liked best, how to get around the island and how to use local facilities to communicate with family and friends.
In the hospital I spent time in the Nephrology Department, the Medical Department and the Emergency and Casualty Departments. I was lucky enough to make good friends with some of my colleagues; one workmate took me to the Temple of Tooth which was an amazing place, a local wonder and well worth a visit. Being in Kandy for five weeks meant that some local people would recognize me. In Sri Lanka people seem to really enjoy talking to you; I guess they were just as curious about me as I was about them. A lot of people can speak English in the local community, especially Doctors. Sri Lankan medicine is taught in English and consultants must have two years’ experience of working in the UK, so all the doctors are fluent. Some nurses speak English too, but many patients can’t, so learning a little Singhalese (and Tamil) can help. The Work the World house offers language lessons in Sinhala, which can be tailored to your vocabulary needs so you can practice with the locals, this was great fun!
I noticed in the Medical Department that a lot of people were in there for simply having a high temperature. In the UK this alone is generally nursed at home unless there are other serious symptoms. I learnt that in this country, a high temperature can indicate a life threatening tropical disease!
My supervisor was an inspirational character who took good care of me as well as being responsible for a large part of the hospital. The secret to learning a lot over there seemed to be getting involved; be interested in what is happening and the staff will create opportunities for you to go to different departments and meet others. Some doctors were happy to teach aspects of their role to me, others gave a lot of information on healthcare issues in Sri Lanka and possible reasons for these. I left with a fascinating insight into public health issues, what health services are available, nursing education and cultural attitudes in Sri Lanka.
Thanks for the experience Work the World!
Enjoy Africa I am sure you will love it too!
Submitted by Karina | September 08, 2016
I am Italian but was in the USA working as a nurse when I first got in touch with Work the World. At this point Africa seemed so far away. I wanted to do a professional work placement so had to be sure that WTW was ok with that, and of course they were very pleased to help me with everything. If there was anything I didn't understand I just asked and the staff were more than happy to help. Ghana was the perfect country for me going by myself, very friendly and really safe.
When I arrived in Accra, one of the local staff was already there with his big smile, waiting for me. His hug immediately made me feel welcome and safe. We spent the first night in Accra and the day after travelled to Takoradi, my home for the following 3 months. My ‘obruni’ (white person) time began then; with a nice trip on a local coach and Nigerian movies (you will love them by the end of the placement). Takoradi is very warm and "African", not a city, but quite busy which is what I really wanted to experience. We started with an orientation in town to get familiar with my nearest supermarket, the bank, internet cafes and the first Ghanaian meal – jollof rice and chicken, which was super good but not as good as the Work the World chef’s food!
After our orientation of Takoradi, the Program Manager and Assistant Program Manager gave their welcome and took me to the hospital to meet the staff I was going to work with. The Regional Hospital orientation was very helpful and it was very reassuring to travel there with them before having to go by myself! I worked there for 12 weeks, working with A&E and Male surgical. It was good to experience two different areas because I was given more of an idea of how the nursing is in Ghana, but my advice is to not choose too many departments because it takes a bit of time for them to trust and know you, and changing too often just wastes your hands-on time. The chance to actually do something is right there in front of your eyes, you just have to be ready to ask to help... be proactive, respectful and open minded!
There is great opportunity to see patients with diseases that you won't see in your own country, it is a chance to learn and challenge yourself. I learned a lot; last minute emergencies with few supplies, how to improvise, how to suture, and how to deal with death. As I was there for 2 months I was given quite a few responsibilities and was also in charge of the local students. The staff were willing to teach and willing to show me how nursing truly is in Ghana. Be there as a learning guest who can give experience and new ideas, but also respect the methods of local staff (even if, at times, it seems far away from your own!) Some days were tougher than others because the healthcare system is so different and at times can be frustrating, but it was what I really wanted.
You will meet many friends in the house – people you can talk through your day with. I shared with my fantastic team both the tears and the good days, we laughed so much and they really took care of me when I broke my arm! We became like family. I also took part in the Fante (the local lingo) classes which helped me understand my patients more, helped me to feel more included and more appreciated by fellow nurses at the hospital. Even at the market it was good fun exchanging a few words in the local language. Thanks Mr. Arthur for the lovely and funny classes!
I took the chance to travel around quite a bit at the weekends, visiting different, fantastic places: Kokrobite to listen to an African drumming concert, Butre and Akwidaa for the paradise beaches, Kumasi where we met with the Ashanti king, Beyin and the amazing Nzuleso village, Kakum and the great Mole national park. I had an amazing time in Africa, and I do recommend Ghana and Work the World for this experience. The team is really well organized, they are always available and love their job, you will always feel welcome and in the right place.
The WTW teams were there through every step of my adventure supporting me and making sure I stayed safe and satisfied. I'm still in touch with the amazing team and always will be, they are part of my life now, and Ghana has been home for me. Enjoy Africa I am sure you will love it too!
I had a truly amazing elective experience
Submitted by Francesca | September 08, 2016
After months of excitement and anticipation, numerous phone calls to Omar – Work the World’s Director – and the team, with our bags packed and Bradt guides in hand we were finally all ready to leave. Arriving in Accra was quite an experience – from the number of people, noise and heat it was hard to believe it was 10pm. In the midst of all the craziness the Assistant Program Manager (APM) was there to meet us with a big hug and a smile. We spent the first night in Accra and travelled to Takoradi the next day. Arriving in Takoradi, we were taken to the work the world house where we met our caterer and had our tour of the house.
Not only did the caterer cook amazing Ghanaian dishes, but she also whipped up some food from back home. She made the house feel like home very quickly and was fantastic! On the first day, the APM gave an induction to the town showing us the bank, post office, internet cafes and other essential places we may have needed giving us many hints and tips along the way that only a local could provide. Takoradi is a busy African town with an amazing market, where you really can buy anything.
For my placement I was based at the regional hospital in Takoradi. On our first day our APM took us to the hospital for our orientation and introduced us to everyone in the hospital. During the four-week placement I spent most of my time on the pediatric ward, but I also had the opportunity to spend time working in the A&E Department and Neonatal Unit. By spending the majority of my time on one ward the nursing staff grew to trust me and allowed me to take an active role within the team. I also had the opportunity to test out nursing skills I don’t often have the opportunity practice at home. My experiences working with the team on the ward was very positive, as everyone was very friendly and happy to help me.
During the placement I had the opportunity to look after children with a variety of conditions which are rare within England including Malaria, typhoid and TB. Working in a hospital with so few resources proved to be very different to what I was expecting, and at times was frustrating. One of the big benefits of living in the Work the World house was that on the odd day when I did have a hard shift I knew I could go back to the house and talk things over with other people having similar experiences. The work the world team in Ghana were very supportive, and always there to discuss our placement experiences.
Whilst my placement was the main reason for me visiting Ghana it only made up a part of my Ghana experience which made my trip so amazing. The majority of our shifts were early shifts, which gave us the afternoons to explore Takoradi and the surrounding areas, spend time at a local orphanage, or just to relax by the pool at Africa Beach. At the weekends, I had the opportunity to travel around Ghana with friends from the Work the World house and visit some truly amazing places including: Butre beach, Wli waterfalls in the Volta region and Lake Bosumtwi near Kumasi. I was also lucky enough to wake up in Kakum National Park on my 21st birthday – an experience I’ll never forget.
I had a truly amazing elective experience in Ghana, and I would recommend Work the World to anyone wanting to organize an elective placement in Africa. The Work the World team were incredibly supportive from the word go, and it was really helpful having everything organized for me. The team in Ghana were amazing, always happy to help us and going out of their way to ensure we had a fantastic time in Ghana.