In November, Wooten and her team gave a presentation on the project at the 2016 American Speech-Language Hearing Assocation (ASHA) annual convention in Philadelphia. We talked with her about what she learned in Guatemala and how she can apply it to her work here and abroad.
How did you discover speech-language pathology – and bilingual SLP?
I was working in a community action program for lower-income families, and a lot of the kids there were being identified with some sort of communication impairment. I originally thought I would teach special education, but then I realized I could bring a lot of my other interests in to work as a speech-language pathologist. I’d taken Spanish in high school and was fascinated with linguistics and the structure of language. Speech-language pathology combined all my passions. I graduated from West Chester University with a bachelor’s degree in communicative disorders with minors in Spanish and linguistics. One reason I chose Temple for graduate school was the bilingual emphasis.
How did you and your classmates decide on Guatemala?
We wanted the bilingual practice, but we also wanted to provide services abroad and explore the idea of how to provide sustainable services in impoverished communities. We knew that Guatemala has very limited access to speech-language services—there are no speech language pathologists there. So we knew there was a need. We connected with the NGO Hearts in Motion, and they let us accompany them on a trip to Guatemala that they already had planned. The Physical Therapy Department at Temple already has a relationship with them, so we knew it was a reliable nonprofit.