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Of all of the things that we have seen, love is by far the most prominent. From parents who travel 4-5 hours one way to come to therapy each day, to parents who are fostering children with extremely involved exceptionalities, to the kids sitting still for, at times, over an hour and working at home later for hours longer, there is the strongest sense of intense love. It would be an understatement to say we love what we do, or to say that it is an honor to be in this place at this time.

Yesterday was a day intensely defined by the learning process. We started off the day by getting to officially meet Cesar y su abuelita (his grandmother) while he practiced speaking in front of our group. One of our team members from Colombia, Ingrid, pretended to interview Cesar so he could speak in front of other families about his success with speech therapy over the course of the past few years.

After Cesar spoke, we began working in a group with patients one by one. As students, we were able to see our supervisors demonstrate their skills as master clinicians while they assessed and brainstormed strategies to work with multiple children in a row. Once more children started to arrive, we began to break up in groups to work with clients that we had (hopefully) seen yesterday. Everyone was finally starting to get the hang of the therapy strategies and incorporating them into therapy, as well as educating the parents.

In the afternoon, 5 students were able to dawn their scrubs (finally) and watch one of two surgeries occurring in the same room. The first surgery was a repaired fistula in the maxilla above the front teeth. We were able to watch the doctor extract a tooth and clear some fibrosis from the area. Then, the surgeon poured some powdered, synthetic bone into the fistula (which costs approximately $400 per .5 grams). The mixture of the blood, tissue, and bone created a cement-like substance, which the surgeon then covered with the superficial tissue and closed the fistula. The surgeon was kind enough to explain everything to us as he was going along and invited us to look closer.

The other surgery that we were able to witness is technically called a LeFort, which is when the surgeons cut laterally through the entire maxilla to move the bone forward to meet the mandible in order to improve alignment. This surgery lasted much longer, so we were only able to see parts of it. Overall, the educational experiences of the day were more than words can describe and likely unlike anything we will get to experience again in the near future.

Chao,

Los Estudiantes (The Students)