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!
I couldn’t have done it without you!
Submitted by Laura - - | September 08, 2016
I came across Work the World on the internet and booking a placement with them seemed like the perfect option for me, as I have never done any travelling outside of Europe and they were able to provide loads of advice about organizing my trip.
On arrival in Arusha we were met at the airport by The Program Manager of the Work the World in Arusha, and taken out for lunch before being driven back to the house to meet the rest of the staff and our new housemates. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and the staff were always on hand to give advice about everything from booking trips to getting the most out of your placement. On the first full day in Arusha we were taken out for an induction, which covered all the basics such as buying sim cards, changing money and searching out the best local eateries and bars. We were also introduced to the dala dala – a form of public transport, which was definitely a unique experience!
The following day was our first day of placement, so we were taken to the hospital and shown around by the matron who introduced us to literally every member of staff there! The matron was really friendly, and although she did not directly supervise us, she always took an interest in what everyone is doing, and keen to help you make the most of your time in the hospital. I spent most of my placement on the female ward, and during my time I dealt with patients with a wide variety of health problems including malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and surgical cases. All the nurses on the ward were very welcoming and allowed me to be actively involved in patient care. One piece of advice I would give to anyone doing a placement here is to be proactive and show that you are willing to work and learn, it’s the only way to earn the trust and respect of the staff.
I visited several other departments, including major theatre, minor theatre, and the Counselling and Treatment Centre (CTC), which is the outpatient department that provides care for people with HIV and AIDS. I found this particularly interesting as I was keen to learn about HIV and AIDS during my placement. The doctors in the CTC spent time taking to me about the treatments they provide and I was allowed to sit in on some of the consultations. Despite my limited knowledge of Swahili, I still found this useful, as the doctors kindly explained things to me in English as they were going along. I also spent a week on the labor ward, which was amazing as I have never had the opportunity to do this at home.
There were plenty of things to keep us amused in our spare time in Arusha. The Maasai market is lots of fun as long as you are willing to haggle, and there is a variety of bars and restaurants and a few clubs as well - Via Via on a Thursday night is particularly good! No trip to Tanzania would be complete without a safari, and we spent three days in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara watching the wildlife. I was amazed at just how many animals we saw and how close we got to them, it was definitely my favorite part of the trip!
I really enjoyed my time in Arusha and met loads of great people during my stay. The staff out there were really helpful and supportive, since I have been back I have especially missed the Work the World house chef’s amazing cooking! After eight weeks we were sad to leave, but enjoyed four days relaxing on the beaches of Zanzibar before flying back home. I would definitely recommend a placement with Work the World to anyone looking to do something different and challenging on their elective, it is a brilliant experience and looks good on your CV too! I would like to thank all the staff in Arusha and the UK for helping me have a fantastic elective. I couldn’t have done it without you!
I experienced a lot
Submitted by Alex - - | September 08, 2016
After a long flight to Kilimanjaro airport we were met by the Assistant Program Manager who greeted us and took us straight for a much needed lunch before taking us to the WTW house where we were shown around and given time to settle in. The following day was orientation day and we were shown around the local town of Arusha and got our first taste of the Massai market, which was an experience. Along with this we were given our first taste of the local dish Ugali (a bit like mash), something that needs to be tried. We were given our first sight of the hospital we were to be working in for the duration of the eight-week placement.
During my placement I experienced a lot. I opted for four weeks on a surgical ward, 2 weeks on gynecology and 2 weeks on a labor ward. As my confidence grew I was able to participate more and by the end of it I was having a laugh with the staff. As I had never had any previous experience on labor wards I wasn't sure what to expect but the doctors were very supportive and keen on teaching. Under supervision I actually delivered my first ever baby. My time spent in the hospital certainly made me appreciate the healthcare services we have back home, as much of the care provided involved improvisation using various equipment and limited space. I was very surprised to see two patients sharing one hospital bed, however I soon realized that this was the norm and happened on a regular basis. The hospital was very flexible when it came to rotating onto different wards and I always felt they tried their best to accommodate me. The only aspect I found difficult to start with was the language barrier but with WTW providing weekly Swahili lessons, and with the help of a Swahili phrase book, I was able to greet and interact with the patients.
During my 2 months there I was always able to fill my weekends as there were endless things to do such as the snake park or guided walks to local villages, although if you do organize a walk make sure you understand how far it is as we ended up walking many km's up a mountain in flip flops after an ‘enjoyable evening’ at a local bar the night before! Whilst all the trips were memorable, the two most enjoyable were going to Zanzibar for five days where we experienced the white sandy beaches and turquoise seas, and a three-day safari where we were lucky enough to see the ‘big five’ as well as lots of animal babies due to the season.
It is not only weekends that you are able to easily fill; after your hospital shift there is always the opportunity to visit an orphanage. Despite the children's backgrounds they were always full of laughter and smiles and were able to bring a smile to the face of anyone who visited them. One such day we took face paints with us which certainly proved a big hit, especially as we ended up with more paint on our faces than on the kids. Whilst we were there, we also invited the children up to the house for a party and were able to see them enjoying the large space that surrounds the house.
Back at the house, the WTW staff couldn't be more helpful. If there was ever a problem or if you just wanted some advice or information on good places to visit, they were always able to help. Our personal chef made amazing food and was always able to cater for individual needs. The weekly BBQs – often followed by a trip to the local nightclub, Via Via – were a highlight. I can’t fault my experience, and most of all the help received by the Work the World staff both before and during my stay. I would recommend anyone wanting to experience a different culture and way of life to take advantage of the helpfulness of this standout company and make the most of their support, experience and expertise.