Loma Linda University
Behavioral Health News

Volume 1, Issue 2

Life Story of Todd Burley
June 9, 1945 - May 31, 2014 

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Todd Burley. As his family is best able to give voice to his story, the narrative that follows has been reprinted from the memorial service program.

Todd was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Eugene Tucker Burley and Ruth Chamberlain Burley. When he was three years old, the family moved to Colombia in South America where Eugene would serve for many years in the Union Office. Growing up in Colombia formed a foundation for Todd's life that informed his notion of the ideal. He loved the weather, the food, the vistas, the freedom to play, the opportunities for travel his family enjoyed, and the pet monkeys he always remembered fondly. He also believed that growing up in Colombia gave him a broad interest in the world, a fascination with different cultures, and a vague sense of home. He used to say that he grew up believing that "home" was always someplace else.

At age sixteen, Todd came to the United States to continue his education. He went first to Campion Academy in Colorado, graduating in 1963, and later to Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland. After graduating from college in 1967, Todd began graduate studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; these years instilled in him a profound respect for the field of psychology and for research of the highest quality. While earning his doctorate in Clinical Psychology, he became an NIMH trainee at Camarillo State Hospital was for his clinical internship. He completed his degree in 1972. Also influential in his professional work was his post-doctoral training with the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles from 1972 through 1976. More recently, Todd was board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology.

While married to Esther Neil, Todd became the proud father of his son Robin in 1973 and his daughter Tanya in 1976. His deep and abiding love for his children formed one of the most meaningful threads of a life that had enormous professional growth and complexity. Guiding his children and teaching them to be strong, intelligent, independent, and tender-hearted was at the heart of his personal life. He also taught his children to have fun, to enjoy beauty, and to be fiercely loyal to home and family.

Todd's professional life reflected his need to be challenged and to grow. He was a teacher, first at the California School of Professional Psychology; then at the University of California, Los Angeles; and finally at the Loma Linda University School of Graduate Studies, Department of Psychology. His work at the LLU Department of Psychology was some of his most meaningful, whether it was working with students in the classroom, supervising their research, or mentoring them through the significant challenges of graduate school and beyond in their careers.

Alongside this work he was a Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist. For a number of years Todd worked as a clinical psychologist in community mental health. He began as a staff psychologist in Tennessee and later became the Executive Director of the Pomona Valley Mental Health Center, serving in that capacity from 1980 to 1989. In 1990, he established a private practice that he maintained until his illness made it impossible to continue to work with patients.

After completing his training with the Gestalt Therapy Institute of Los Angeles, he went on to become a trainer in the Los Angeles program and later trained internationally. His work through the institute allowed him to train post-graduate psychologists, psychiatrists, clinical social workers, and counselors in Eastern and Western Europe as well as in Israel. He began as a faculty member for the annual Summer Residential Training Program in Gestalt Therapy in 1986 and continued through 2012. He became a core faculty member in the Gestalt Associates Training of Los Angeles at its inception and continued to bring his energy, his interests, and his dedication to the Gestalt community and international training for many years. Being a part of the Gestalt community was one of the anchoring experiences of his personal and professional life.

On a more personal level, he married Ginny Burley in 1994, and expanded his family to include three stepchildren: Karin, Kimberly, and Eric. His pride in Ginny's accomplishments and in the accomplishments of Robin, Tanya, Karin, Kimberly, and Eric brought him great joy and satisfaction. Todd and Ginny shared many wonderful years of traveling together, talking, and caring for all of their children and grandchildren. The relationship was one based on meaningful connections and mutual support. Adding to his circle of loved ones was his brother Kimber and sister-in-law Diane and his nieces Kierstin and Katie. The times when the family got together were filled with genuine warmth, sharing, and laughter. Almost more than anything, the Burley family loved to laugh. Beginning in 2004, Todd's family expanded again with the arrival of his grandchildren. Shortly thereafter, he added the title "Boppa" to his long list of accomplishments.

On June 7, Dr. Todd Burley's family came together not only to mourn his loss but also to celebrate his life and honor his contributions as father, husband, brother, uncle, stepfather, grandfather, and professional.
Community Engagement

BHi Shares: A Worthy Interdisciplinary Conversation

The once a month series held on Wednesdays at the Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) has been picking up steam and popularity beyond academia. The last installment featured speaker Dr. Rebecca Ballinger (post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology) and her research analyst, Keith Klein, presenting their work on the SHIELD Project. Their discussion attracted LLU Medical Center staff, researchers, students, and practitioners from local agencies. Family Specialist and attendee Adriana Avalos from South Coast Community Services commented, "The outcomes shared from the SHIELD program would be very effective for our current clients if they were able to access these services." Bing Turner MPH(c), Coordinator of BHi Shares, notes that, "Sentiments like these not only underscore the need for programs like SHIELD, but also the necessity of a speaker series that clearly demonstrates how to put theory into practice and create positive outcomes."


Research analyst Keith Klein presents data from the SHIELD Project. 


 If you are interested in attending future BHi Shares events, please email [email protected].

Counseling and Family Sciences Celebrates "Child Life Month"

The month of March honors "Child Life," and the MS in Child Life Specialist Program at Loma Linda University was involved in many exciting events this year to commemorate the event. 


International Child Life Practice in ZheJiang, China

Michelle Minyard-Widmann, MS, CCLS, program director, and Alisha Saavedra, MS, CCLS, clinical coordinator, for the MS in Child Life Specialist Program, visited The Children's Hospital at the ZheJiang University School of Medicine in China from March 1-7, 2014. They presented six lectures to the ZheJiang healthcare team about Child Life and the psychosocial care of children and adolescents. An estimated two hundred people attended the lectures. Saavedra states, "It was a very rewarding experience. ZheJiang's team embraced the knowledge we shared with such enthusiasm. By providing hands-on tools that we use daily as child life specialists, we were able to show them a new way of providing psychosocial care and education for children."


Michelle Minyard-Widmann (above center-left) and Alisha Saavedra (above center-right) engaged with healthcare professionals at The Children's Hospital ZheJiang University School of Medicine in ZheJiang, China (March 1-7, 2014).

Professors Minyard-Widmann and Saavedra plan to return to ZheJiang in November 2014 with a group of Loma Linda University students from the MS in Child Life Specialist program to provide additional lectures, and a Teddy Bear Clinic for the pediatric patients. Minyard-Widmann states, "With the suggestion and participation of the nursing staff, the clinic will consist of skills stations where patients will learn about the hospital environment and procedures such as I.V. starts and PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) lines. The Child Life students will provide educational and therapeutic activities to engage the children in their learning which will enhance their understanding and coping in the hospital environment."

Michelle Minyard-Widmann (above center-right) and Alisha Saavedra (above center-left) provided lectures on Child Life to ZheJiang's healthcare team.

During the upcoming trip to ZheJiang in November, LLU Child Life students will be provided with a unique opportunity to engage in international child life practice. "I feel that exposure to diverse communities will enhance the students' clinical skills as well as looking at child life practice in a global context. To actively engage in a dialogue with health care providers; to examine the psychosocial and developmental issues and how they are impacted by childhood illness and hospitalization is a valuable learning opportunity," says Minyard-Widmann. Saavedra adds that, "Not only will they be exposed to a new culture and way of life, but they will continue to further the University's commitment to global service."


Child Life Program Hosts 4th Annual Child Life Symposium
Students and faculty of the MS in Child Life Specialist Program,
Department of Counseling and Family Sciences.


On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, the MS in Child Life Specialist Program hosted the 4th Annual Child Life Symposium at Loma Linda University. An estimated one hundred participants, including child life specialists and other health care professionals working with pediatric patients, attended this regional event. Jill Hudson, MS, CCLS, presented "Prescription for Success: Supporting Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Health Care Setting." In addition, the Autism Society (Inland Empire) participated as a vendor and provided a parent panel, which included parents with children on the autism spectrum that shared their thoughts and experiences with the attendees. Child Life student Gwendolyn Kubota comments, "I learned that there are many effective strategies to help children who are on the autism spectrum cope with hospitalization. As more research surfaces and we continually strive to improve our healthcare for this population, hopefully more on children on the spectrum will flourish and blossom in our community."


Other vendors included Loma Linda University Children's Hospital (Child Life Department), SAFE KIDS/trauma support services, as well as Discovery Toys. Vendors provided raffle/door prizes given out during the conference. According to Child Life Program Director Michelle Minyard-Widmann, the Symposium was "an excellent opportunity to gain positive community exposure for our program at LLU and reflects the current topics and trends of child life practice." Child Life student Kayleigh Ocampo states that, "The symposium gave us the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of parents who have had many hospital experiences with their children. [Their] stories were essential in helping us develop perspective and we are so grateful [to] the parents who were transparent with us, allowing us to learn [from] their real life situations with their children!" Next year's symposium is scheduled for March 11, 2015.
- Jillianne Wagner and Michelle Minyard-Widmann

A participant receives a health screening at Flatbush Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brooklyn, New York.

Black Men's Prostate Health: Taking it to the Big Apple

On the morning of April 17, 2014, a group of eighteen Loma Linda University faculty, staff, and students transformed the entire Flatbush Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brooklyn, New York into a standalone community health haven, offering cholesterol and diabetes testing, blood pressure check, lung capacity, and weight and waist circumference testing. An extension of Project C.H.A.N.G.E. (Changing Health for Adult Men with New and Great Experiences), this Prostate Research collaborative involves the LLU School of Behavioral Health, School of MedicineUniversity of Michigan School of Nursing, and the Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine. The goal of the project is to better understand the link between stress and disease in this often underserved population. A team of seventy-five volunteers, organized by Dr. Colwick Wilson (UM/LLU), administered a 45-minute questionnaire to the approximately three hundred men who participated in the research data collection component, wherein they also donated blood samples to the project. From eight o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock in the evening, men from various faith denominations and communities received much-needed services in addition to information on stress, nutrition, prostate cancer, and decision-making and treatment options. 


From left to right: Horatius Gittens, PhD(c), Dr. Susanne Montgomery, Richard H. Calhoun, Sr., Pastor of Flatbush SDA Church, Carlos A. Casiano, PhD, Associate Director at the Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine, and Dr. Colwick Wilson, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan.

- Bing Turner

Psychology Hosts 1st Annual San Bernardino Brain Bee

Faculty and students from the Department of Psychology in the School of Behavioral Health hosted the 1st annual San Bernardino Brain Bee at Loma Linda University on April 6, 2014. Graduate students from the Department of Psychology assisted with the coordination of this event, led by Psychology PhD students Courtney Ray, MA, MDiv, Pamela Lorenzo and Nikita Mistry, MA. Moderated by Melissa Dulcich-Garcia, PhD, the "Brain Bee Competition" was the capstone and primary attraction of this event. Five bright high school students competed for prizes by answering questions related to neuroscience in front of a large audience.


The event also included a keynote address by Richard Hartman, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Loma Linda Behavioral Neuroscience Lab. Dr. Hartman commented that this event "was a really good experience for the students, faculty, and community [members] that participated. The attendees I spoke to were extremely appreciative of this opportunity to mingle with neuroscientists, learn about our field and 'how to get there.'"


San Bernardino high school student participants raise their answers to a Brain Bee neuroscience question. More photos here.


The keynote presentation was followed by breakout sessions conducted by psychology graduate students and other health care professionals that included topics such as "What is Clinical Psychology?," "What does it take to be a doctoral student?," "Traumatic brain injuries in sports," and "The truth about performance-enhancing drugs."


The San Bernardino Brain Bee will continue to be held on an annual basis, providing students and community members with an opportunity to engage with neuroscientists, students of neuroscience and neuroscience as a field.

- Jillianne Wagner


Translational Research
New LLUH Center for Brain Hemorrhage
Dr. Richard Hartman (fourth from left) and
Dr. Andre Obenaus (far right), both SBH faculty, stand with the other members of the LLU Translational Neuroscience Group.
Research: The Behavioral Health Component

Our neuroscience research group at Loma Linda University recently coined a new term, the "Vascular Neural Network," to describe the tight connection between brain cells and the vascular system (Zhang et al., Nature Reviews: Neurology, 2012). This network is severely impacted by injuries associated with bleeding in the brain (i.e., hemorrhage).


The purpose of our new Program Project Grant (led by Dr. John Zhang) is to determine the common and distinct features of three major types of hemorrhagic brain injury: subarachnoid hemorrhage (caused by the rupture of an aneurysm in the cerebral arteries), intracerebral hemorrhage (often caused by a hypertension-induced arterial rupture in the basal ganglia region of the brain), and traumatic brain injury (from an external impact). Additionally, we are investigating neurovascular protection strategies targeting three distinct biochemical pathways. Finally, we are assessing injury and treatment outcomes via behavior (e.g., cognitive and sensorimotor assessements), imaging (e.g., MRI), histology (i.e., cutting and staining of brain tissue for microscopic examination). Members of the School of Behavioral Health involved in this grant are Dr. Andy Obenaus (director of the Neuroimaging Core) and Dr. Rich Hartman (director of the Neurobehavioral Core).


The Neurobehavioral Core

Behavior represents the "final common pathway" of neurological disorders. The long-term goal of the Neurobehavioral Core is to identify common and distinct features of behavioral changes after three types of brain injury and the response to therapeutic interventions that protect the blood brain barrier and reduce brain swelling. The Neurobehavioral Core will determine the effects of injury type, treatment, and time on the overall behavioral profile, and determine relationships between behavior and biomarkers from each model. Statistical modeling will allow us to determine which behavioral deficits tend to cluster together, suggesting common biological mechanisms.


All behavioral testing and data analysis will take place in Dr. Hartman's Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory. Dr. Hartman will direct the animal behavioral design, testing, analysis, data storage and presentation of the results. The neurobehavioral tests have been used in previous publications to characterize rodent models of anxiety, neuronal dysfunction, Alzheimer's disease, developmental toxicology, and brain injury, and to demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of pre-clinical treatment strategies for neurodegenerative diseases. The objective of this test battery is to provide a broad characterization of cognitive and/or sensorimotor deficits in rodent models of human neuropathology. Sensorimotor coordination (and unilateral deficits), general activity levels, anxiety and depression-like behaviors, basic associative learning, relational learning, short-term memory, long-term memory, attention, and problem-solving strategy are among the domains that can be assessed with the data collected. Ultimately, identification of common and distinct features of brain injuries and treatments will help to determine the relationships between various behaviors and different brain areas, as well as the optimal treatment strategy and dosage.

- Dr. Richard Hartman


For more information on the new LLUH Center for Brain Hemorrhage that is currently in development, click here.

John Bellone stands beside his poster, titled "Low Doses of Iron or Silicon Radiation Affect Spatial Memory in APP/PSEN1 Double Transgenic Mice," at the 43rd annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, CA in November 2013. More photos from the conference here.

Psychology Students Display Research Findings at 43rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience

At the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (November 9-13, 2013), four students and one Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Psychology in the School of Behavioral Health were invited to display their research findings. Held this year in San Diego, California, students Shina Halavi, John Bellone, Michael Finlay, Nikita Mistry and Melissa Dulcich, Ph.D., formally submitted their posters for consideration in the spring of 2013 to be included in the posters on display during the annual meeting. Their posters were all accepted and the students traveled to San Diego to participate in this event. These students conducted their research as part of a neuroscience lab under the direction of Dr. Richard Hartman. Dr. Hartman has attended this annual meeting, which normally rotates between New Orleans, San Diego, D.C., and Chicago and has an average attendance of 40,000, every year since 1995. Since 2009, many students from Dr. Hartman's lab have presented posters and given presentations at this event. Dr. Hartman shared that, "The best thing about this conference is that the posters get visited by everyone from grad students to senior scientists in the highest tiers of the field, and our students did a great job of explaining their projects and answering tough questions. The feedback that they got should help to strengthen their individual projects, and the networking connections made at this conference often lead to future scientific collaborations and even employment opportunities."

  • John Bellone's presented poster was titled "Low Doses of Iron or Silicon Radiation Affect Spatial Memory in APP/PSEN1 Double Transgenic Mice." The study's aim was "To determine whether low doses of silicon or iron radiation affect behavior over time in APP/PSEN1 transgenic (TG) mice that develop AD-like neuropathology and learning deficits."
  • Melissa Dulcich, Ph.D.'s presented poster was titled "The Effects of Proton Radiation on Neurogenesis in Adult Mice that have Consumed Pomegranate Juice." The study's aim was "To determine whether proton irradiation suppresses neurogenesis in mice, and whether this could be prevented by ingestion of pomegranate juice, which contains a high concentration of polyphenols."
  • Michael Finlay's presented poster was titled "The Effects of Radiation on Behaviorally Induced Neurogenesis." The study's aim was "To determine whether training in a spatial learning task increases mossy fiber growth, whether gamma radiation inhibits mossy fiber growth, and whether fiber growth is related to spatial performance."
  • Nikita Mistry's presented poster was titled "The Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury at 7 or 10 Days of Age in Mice." The study's aim was "To determine the extent of hippocampal damage after juvenile TBI."
  • Shina Halavi's presented poster was titled "The Acute Behavioral Effects of Proton Radiation in Adult Mice That Have Consumed Pomegranate Juice Since Before Birth." The study's aim was "To determine whether a pomegranate-enriched diet would ameliorate radiation-induced behavioral and cognitive deficits by neutralizing the oxidative stress and neuro-inflammation."

- Jillianne Wagner

Student News
Students and faculty get to know one another at the CFS Student Retreat in January. More photos here.

1st Annual Counseling and Family Sciences Student Retreat

Students, faculty, and staff in the Counseling and Family Sciences department took a short break in January to focus on internal community-building. An annual event coordinated by the CFS Student Advisory Committee (SAC), this day-long retreat gives students the opportunity to interact with faculty, staff, and one other in a relaxed environment.


But it wasn't all fun and games! Networking, the theme of this year's retreat, fosters future professional collaboration--and the development of this skill was a major goal for the day. Student organizer Kayleigh Ocampo notes that many of the participants may have the opportunity to work together as colleagues after graduation. "Overall," Kayleigh says, "we had a wonderful time creating relationships, as well as taking some time to laugh, love, and take a break from school work."


Dr. Curtis Fox, Chair, presented an inspirational message to the group, which was followed by a lively discussion on community-building led by a SAC member. Students were also given the opportunity to ask professional questions of faculty, staff, and more experienced students during the "speed mentoring" portion of the program. Dr. Brian Distelberg, a faculty member appointed to SAC, says, "The students did an amazing job organizing a very meaningful event. The goal of the day was to relax, but also to help the CFS students make connections across the department's many programs. In both cases, the SAC exceeded these goals and we look forward to next year's retreat!"


- Diana Krueger and Kayleigh Ocampo

SBH All-School Photo Shoot
The School of Behavioral Health Photo Shoot took place on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at the Centennial Complex on the Loma Linda University campus. The pictures included all faculty, students and staff from each SBH program.

Photo by Dave White, Loma Linda Portrait Studio.
- Jillianne Wagner
Final Canadian University College Marital and Family Therapy Graduation

Graduation exercises at Canadian University College in Lacombe, Alberta were bittersweet experiences in April 2013. Five students among the rest were graduates of the marital and family therapy program sponsored by the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences at Loma Linda University. This long-standing joint program between Loma Linda University and Canadian University College was graduating its final class of students.


The final five graduates from the marital and family therapy program at Canadian University College stand with their faculty: Dianna Connors, Dr. Curtis Fox, and Doug Werner (left to right).


Over the years, several students were trained as marital and family therapists at Canadian University College and have been making their contributions to individual and family wellbeing all across Canada, the United States of America, and other parts of the world. Instructors from Loma Linda University who taught intensive courses there remarked about the preparedness and maturity of the students and how much they enjoyed the opportunity to interact with them when they had that opportunity.


The graduation exercises involved a graduation reception, a consecration service, a baccalaureate service, and a commencement exercise. Doug Werner and Dianna Connors, who assisted the remnant of students in the program participated in the various programs over that weekend. Both Dough Werner and Dianna Connors were given special awards for their many years of service and dedication to the program in Canada. The joint program is now closed formally and graduate degrees are no longer offered in marital and family therapy.  

- Dr. Curtis Fox


Social Work Student and Faculty Member Present Blue Zone Principles at the American Society on Aging Conference
Dr. Victoria Jackson and Stephanie Wogomon at the American Society on Aging conference in San Diego.

On March 13, 2014, I had the pleasure of presenting with Professor Victoria Jackson, Ed.D, LCSW at the American Society on Aging conference. This event was held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, California. Our topic of presentation was "Blue Zone: Promoting Caregiver Health and Wellness."


I presented on the topic of Caregiving. I provided statistics, challenges and stressors that accompany caring for a loved one. The National Family Caregivers Association conducted a random sample survey that involved 1,000 adults and found that more than one-fourth (26.6%) of the adult population have cared for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend in the past year. Using census data, this translates into more than 50 million people (2000).


In addition to this, research by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) indicates that there are four challenges caregivers will encounter: 1) managing their life effectively; 2) meeting all the demands they would need to meet; 3) having enough money to properly care for their loved one; and 4) being able to cope with the physical and mental stressors that would arise (n.d.). These four areas, according to the Caregiver Resource Center, can cause caretakers to suffer physically, emotionally, mentally, interpersonally, and spiritually (2014). This creates a need that should be addressed in order to ensure those caring for one another remain strong and healthy individuals. This workshop shared ways to address such concerns.


Professor Jackson spoke on the topic of the Blue Zone. She defined what a Blue Zone is, described the characteristics of a Blue Zone community and ways to incorporate Blue Zone principles into one's lifestyle, along with community projects that are available within the Blue Zone field. Blue Zone is said to refer to the research done by Dan Buettner in 2009. His research took into account individuals who were centennials (lived to be 100) and where they lived. According to his research there are five places where there are a higher percentage of individuals living to be 100: Sardina, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, CA, Ikaria, Greece and Nicoya, Costa Rica. What, you may ask, is their secret?


Research states that the secret is in how they live their lives compared with others. These individuals nurture strong social support, consume plant-based diets that they eat in moderation, implement daily natural physical exercise, and have a purpose for their life (Buettner, 2009). If caregivers were to take these suggestions then it is believed that their physical, mental, and spiritual health would improve.


When I was asked to present at this conference I was very excited. I had never presented at a conference and loved the idea of educating those in the field about the struggles of caring for a loved one. Additionally, it brought me so much joy knowing I would be able to provide coping strategies, to ensure a better quality of life for those who sacrificially give their life to better that of another. Not only was I able to accomplish this, but I was also able to meet wonderful people and get my name out in the field. I did this by presenting, attending the exhibit hall, and collecting resources in the many different areas of Gerontology. I feel that this was a great beginning for my social work career and I strongly recommend that others, given this opportunity, take advantage of the wonderful experience that presenting and educating within your community can offer you.
- Stephanie Wogomon, MSW and MS Gerontology Candidate
Faculty Updates
Dr. Carmen Knudson-Martin Honored by Professional Peers

Carmen Knudson-Martin, PhD, director of the PhD program in marital and family therapy, was recently recognized by the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) for her many contributions to the field. She was named an NCFR Family Therapy Legacy Scholar, honored by the Family Therapy section at the annual meeting in San Antonio, Texas on November 7, 2013. The award recognizes her as one whose scholarship and service have inspired many and provided important directions for emerging scholars.


Dr. Knudson-Martin (fourth from left) stands with the NCFR Legacy Scholars.


On the same evening, Dr. Knudson-Martin was surprised to discover that she was also being honored as an Outstanding Mentor. Current and former students had written unsolicited letters recommending her for this honor.

- Dr. Curtis Fox
NetCommunity: New Ways to Give
After a year of preparation and design, NetCommunity, the new online giving site, is now operational. As of last October, visitors are now being directed to the new site. Some of the features included are impact stories, list of ways to give and the ability for donors, once they have created a login account, to see their giving history. The second stage of this launch will take place soon with the full implementation of the LLU online alumni directory.
Students for International Mission Service (SIMS)

"Reflections on My Sri Lankan Travel"


If my reflections were turned into a play it would be separated by three acts. Act I would be humility; act II, charity (interdependence); and, act III would be the value of social work in international services.




I am convinced; the best antidote for Honor is humility. The honor with which we were greeted at the various sites attended was truly overwhelming. For me there was a feeling of unworthiness for such greetings and welcomes. I felt the Sri Lankians deserved the Honor for allowing me (us) to invade their space with what potentially could have been new ideas and thoughts. This was not the case. In sharing new educational experiences, I became the learner; they the teachers. Although Sri Lanka may be thought of as isolated from many parts of the world, the  knowledge and interest the children showed in environmental and social issues was far beyond what I expected of children at such tender ages. Truly, I became the learner, they the teachers.



Lessons Learned about Charity (Interdependence)

As far as I can remember, the mantra 'charity begins at home and spreads abroad' was spoken in our household. It was a reminder of the need for tolerance, understanding, and consideration of others. Timothy 5:8 states "but if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." Let me explain. The Loma Linda Sri Lankian participants were comprised of several disciplines: dentistry, medicine, nursing, religion, speech therapy, and social work. Thousands of miles away from our home site as we talked among ourselves, it became clear, that each discipline did not have a clear sense of what the other does, or, how each discipline can complement the other. It was revealed that when we work together, without hierarchy, but with respect for what the other has to offer, we can all be much more successful and accomplished. The appreciation shown for each discipline's presence at the various health fairs was evidence of successful outcomes when individuals with complementary differences work together.


Additionally, it is all about the relationship and the relationship building. I knew none of the other participants on a personal level prior to the Sri Lankan journey. To say that I know them all on a personal level now would be an overstatement. But, to engage more in each of their/our disciplines would epitomize the charity at home and shrink the interdependence gap. Now that we are back home we have scattered to our discipline corners. How wonderful it would be to nourish these same kinds of interdependent relationships at home as we did abroad. Thus, my explanation for Timothy 5:8.



The Value of Social Work in International Service

I did not know what to expect or what my assignment would be upon arriving in Sri Lanka. I quickly learned children and families share the same basic concerns regardless of where they live. It was an honor to be able to talk openly with children about child abuse, drugs and alcohol problems in the family, how to talk to parents, domestic violence, maintaining ongoing relationships with friends, learning difficulties, and a variety of other subject matters. Social workers need to be involved to respond to these questions in a culturally sensitive manner. Because of language differences, it was ever so important to use those social work skills and concepts we learn, and talk about utilizing all the time when engaging with families; concepts such as meeting the clients at their levels; terms such as clarifying, reframing, and others. As a clarifying example, one young woman expressed concern that she had difficulty hearing. Maintaining my scope of practice, I said to her she could address her hearing concern with the medical staff when she met with them. Of course there was laughter. After clarifying and reframing what she was asking, it turned out she was asking me "what do I do when my parents don't listen to me when I talk"? A simple question, but the wrong answer without reframing and clarification. A great example to share with my social work students back home. The teacher became even more of a learner.
Upcoming SIMS Trips
India--Mumbai: August 16-31, 2014
Honduras--Pan American Health Services: 
December 26, 2014- January 5, 2015
Visit the SIMS website to sign up!
Contact Us!

We invite all students, faculty, alumni, friends, and community partners to share this publication widely. We welcome your comments, suggestions, and alumni updates:

School of Behavioral Health
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(909) 558-4528

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