GPHN Students Travel to Lao, Teach at LANI

Rosemary, Jessica, Becky with childrenThree GPHN students were awarded an OHSU Global Overseas Travel Award for travel to Lao in August 2017 to participate in a four week international experience that included various aspects of one or more of the following: clinical practice, public and population health, health education, and research. Diane Stadler, PhD, RD, LD, GPHN & LANI Nutrition Curriculum Director, accompanied Becky Johnson, Jessica Somohano, and Rosemary Doerner in Lao to assist with teaching at LANI and other experiences. Below are highlights from Becky and Rosemary.

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Becky Johnson, 2nd year MS/DIBecky, Rosemary, Jessica teaching at LANI

Some of the highlights of our trip to Lao included attending the graduation ceremony for the first class of LANI clinical nutrition students, observing and interacting with parents and children with special health care needs at the Child Development Center at Lao Korea Children's Hospital in Vientiane, developing and giving presentations to staff at the Child Development Center (I developed a presentation on picky eating, Jessica covered topics such as cleft palate at complementary feeding, and Rosemary did the interpretation into Thai), giving lectures to the second class of LANI clinical nutrition students, visiting rural Khmu and Hmong villages, participating in nutrition-focused physical exam rounds at Mahosot Hospital in Vientiane, and of course, sampling the local cuisine to learn about Lao food customs.

Mekong River, Luang Prabang; Photo Credit: Becky JohnsonTraditional lunch of bamboo with eggs, mushrooms, fruit salad, and dried beef served on a banana leaf; Photo Credit: Becky JohnsonHmong farmer with her harvest; Photo Credit: Becky Johnson
Photos: Mekong River, Traditional Lunch, and Hmong Farmer - Photo Credit: Becky Johnson

Rosemary Doerner, 2017 DI graduateDiane Stadler, Rosemary, the Lao Minister of Health, Jessica, Becky, Joanna Cummings at first LANI graduation ceremony

In August, I had the opportunity to go to Vientiane, Laos to teach nutrition skills and concepts to the clinicians in the Children's Hospital and the new cohort of students at LANI. In the month I was there I learned about the food, customs and dietary practices of different families during patient consultations. I was able to use my Thai language skills to communicate and interpret the Lao language to my peers and help translate nutrition labels of infant formulas to make a formulary of those available in Laos. I also posed as medical interpreter for some of the nutrition presentations created by Jessica, Becky and Joanna Cummings. We had the opportunity to travel to Luang Prabang, a city in Northern Laos and were able to experience the different customs and availability of foods from the two different regions. My time in Laos was short but extremely rewarding. I feel very thankful to have had this enriching experience and I know that the skills I've acquired on this trip will help me as I move forward in my career as a registered dietitian. 

Rosemary, Jessica with children