“My experience here has been life-changing. I have learned to be patient with myself and others as I was embraced by a new culture and language, and my compassion and understand have grown immeasurably. This is an experience I recommend to anyone interested in working with the most loving group of people”- Alecia Harris, Fall 2017.
About my Internship
My name is Alecia Harris, “I am in a Master’s program at the University of Idaho in Rehabilitation Counseling. I specialize in working with youth with disabilities and assisting them in transitioning from school to work. I came to Cusco, Peru to complete an internship at Phawarisa school. In the three months I have been here, I have worked with the administration in setting up an assessment to establish standards and criteria for graduating from the school. Manos Unidas provides three levels services, from protected, to supported, to independent. It was important to find Independent Living Skills criteria that would adapt to all three levels.
I used the Washington Functional Life Skills Assessment, which includes 16 categories of skills, such as money management, to housekeeping, to job seeking skills. Each category is then divided into three levels, from basic to intermediate, to advanced. The assessment then had to be culturally adapted for Peru. For example, the Washington assessment had such skills as learning to drive a car or ride a bike. With the large-scale use of public transportation, these skills are not necessary for Peru. There were other skills that also needed to be added to the assessment. Gardening is an essential skill with most people having a garden of varying sizes. Manos Unidas also maintains a garden and teaches gardening skills to the students.
I then introduced the Functional Life Skills Assessment to four students. One student was in the protected program, one student was in the supported program, and two students were in the independent program. For the students in the protected and supported programs, I assessed their skills levels, their strengths, and barriers. With this information, the school staff can set IEP goals that are in line with functional living skills. The two students in the independent program were then placed at a job site. I acted as the job coach to assess their job skills, their strengths and barriers. Job skills were then taught to the students to increase their strengths and minimize barriers.”
Alecia also did a phenomenal job coaching two of our students within their first job practicum placement.
Thank you so much Alecia for your time and dedication.