Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Ecuador

Saludos a todos!
I hope this "blog" greets you all happy, healthy, and enjoying your summer thus far. We have been in Guayaquil for about 2 1/2 weeks now and it is hard to know where to begin...now about half way through this trip I think I am actually catching the flow of it all! We have been working in the mornings (Monday-Friday) at "Lorenzo Ponce", the largest psychiatric hospital in Ecuador and attending language classes in the evenings. The transition, at least for me, was difficult at first. In our first week here the earth literally shook beneath us (earthquake) and on top of all the inevitable culture shocks (where's my Starbucks coffee?), Juan, Zack and I, ended the week watching a patient at the hospital undergo Electro Shock Therapy (something I had heard about but had never witnessed before). I cried. It helped to ground and locate me in the family of things as they exist here.

Like I said, it's nice to be finally catching the flow of it all here, especially in our clinical work in the hospital. Known as "los psicologos de los Estados Unidos" by doctors and patients alike I am proud to say we are rising to their positive projections and breaking negative stereotypes. I promise to be more explicit later, I notice my time on this computer is "timing out'!

Alas, this is all from me for now. Vague, but a start nonetheless.


jeanine baillie

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I recall the Sunday afternoon, not that long ago, when Rick Muhr and Cynthia's running colleagues ran a track near Worcester to remember her life and her work. This memorial has evolved in a striking and substantive way that will truly change the way that mental health professionals are trained and how mental health services are offered.

I am very proud of you all. Very proud.

Learn much and enjoy the summer.


Nicholas A. Covino, President

Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology

221 Rivermoor St. Boston MA 02134

617-327-6777 ext. 281

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Saludos desde Ecuador y Costa Rica! So, here we are...MSPP's 2008 Summer Immersion program in Ecuador and Costa Rica has started off to a great start. In just its second year, the Lucero Latino Mental Health Program's summer immersion group has grown exponentially from 6 students who pioneered this venture last year to a total of 15 students--6 who are currently in their 2nd week in Guayaquil and a group of 9 students who have just arrived in Costa Rica. After leaving the Guayaquil gang who was off to celebrate Juan's birthday with a trip to the beach, I arrived at El Rancho Espanol (located in the rural town of La Guacima) after it had just been invaded by 9 venturous MSPP women: Aliza, Avi, Darleen, Jaimie, Laura, Sasha, Shelly, Vicky and Yanina. The group has also adopted Ariel, a psychiatry resident from Cambridge Hospital, who struggles to balance the gender disparity bringing a faint male energy into the group. In just 3 days the gang is already discussing complex Spanish verb tenses, eating delicious "Tico" meals, and seized the local bar to celebrate their arrival--in full Latin style dancing salsa and merengue!

Our three native speakers, Darleen, Vicky and Yanina are getting busy with the volunteer mental health program--the trio had a warm welcoming reception today at "Hogar Siembra" a teenage girls' shelter, where they savored delicious crepes prepared by the residents. It's great to see such a rich Latino inter-cultural exchange where our students bring not just their professional expertise, but also their cultural influences from Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Peru to the heart of Costa Rica. Yesterday we visited another shelter for teenage mothers, where the students will be running groups, giving psycho-educational talks, and assisting in the administration of psychological tests. Tomorrow we'll visit a center for terminally ill patients, as well as a local primary care clinic, and Friday we'll go on a tour of the largest national psychiatric hospital.

But, above all, our students in Costa Rica are benefiting from the highest quality Spanish instruction that El Rancho Espanol offers. One more year, Veronica, Clara and Manuel, as well as the rest of El Rancho's staff and instructors have welcomed us warmly as we continue to solidify this collaboration. And we're clearly "spreading the word" since several students from other institutions have now come to El Rancho following our recommendation, and other school's like Pepperdine University are looking into the possibility of starting their own summer immersion program in Costa Rica for psychology students.

Saludos a nuestros estudiantes que estan en Guayaquil, esperamos que ya se esten acostumbrando a sus mandiles de psicologos y como dicen los salseros...

Que siga La Fiesta!!!

Amaro Laria

MSPP's Latino Mental Health Program

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cynthia's Marathon continues...

Estimados amigos y amigas:

Tonight we were part of a very special event in the city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. La "Fundacion Dra. Cynthia Lucero" hosted a special "Welcoming Cocktail" to celebrate the debut of MSPP's Latino Mental Health Training Program's (LMHT) first summer immersion program in Guayaquil. The event established what promises to be a very fruitful collaboration among La Fundacion Dra. Cynthia Lucero, Universidad Espiritu Santo (UEES), Hospital Psiquiatrico Lorenzo Ponce, and Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology. Honored at this event were "el Sr. Mauro Escalante Carpio" (La Fundacion's president), Dr. Albert Eyde (UEES's vicepresident), Dr. Amaro Laria (MSPP-LMHT's director), and the 6 MSPP students who pioneered this venture: Aimee Asgarian, Jeanine Bailie, Zack Blumkin, Christina Massari, Juan Rodriguez, and George Soto. All of them received the distinction of "Honorary Member of La Fundacion Dra. Cynthia Lucero" with beautiful diplomas that display Cynthia's contagious smile and unrelenting spirit. It was quite a moving event and Cynthia's presence was clearly felt. As we chatted during the cocktail many of us began to comment about the interesting synchronicities that were discovered in the process of establishing this collaboration, while a large picture with Cynthia's smile in the background reminded us who was responsible for creating these connections.

Six years later, Cynthia's Marathon goes on... Gracias Cynthia!

Que chevere: Saludos desde Guayaquil!

Dear all,

We're sending a warm a hello from Guayaquil! We've been here for 4 days and are getting acquainted with this city and Ecuadorian culture. Aimee, Christina, George, Jeanine, Juan and Zack are getting settled at the "Hospital Psiquiatrico Lorenzo Ponce" which is the main psychiatric hospital in Guayaquil. It's a very intense setting with hundreds of acute chronically ill patients (mostly schizophrenic). I think we're all having a bit of a shock, being in such a large setting with hundreds of severely mentally ill patients, and also the fact that some things are done so different here than in the U.S. makes it a bit disorienting. We've seen some innovative things, as well as significant limitations, which, as usual, are obviously explained by resources and their lack.
I feel like it's quite a humbling experience for any mental health professional working in the U.S. to be witness to the way very competent professionals manage to work despite lacking some of the basic things that we tend to take for granted (i.e., government support for mental health services, accessibility to atypical anti-psychotics).

By contrast, the Universidad Espiritu Santo is an impressive facility with state of the art resources (obviously, the social class that attends the hospital is quite different from the one that attends the university).

Tonight we're all invited as honored guests to a "cocktail event" to celebrate the launching of this inter-institutional collaboration among: La Fundacion Cynthia Lucero, La Universidad Espiritu Santo, Hospital Psiquiatrico Lorenzo Ponce, and MSPP. And tomorrow we're invited to a welcoming reception at the university. All of us have been working very intensely, so hopefully the students will get to do something fun
in the weekend, and I'll be flying on Saturday to Costa Rica to meet the second gang...

So, we hope everyone is having a great summer and I'm sure Aimee, Christina, George, Jeanine, Juan and Zack will have many interesting stories to tell when they return!