CSUDH Occupational Therapy Geriatrics Graduate Program Bulgaria

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May 1 - 12, 2020
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Los Angeles
Max People : 17
Tour Details

Stone & Compass is excited to partner once again on an exemplary service learning trip with the Graduate program in Occupational Therapy at CSUDH (California State University Dominguez Hills). This program offers service to the Elderly Home in Stolat, Bulgaria just a short walk from our 2000 acre center.

The CSUDH Department of Occupational Therapy invites you to participate in a 10-day excursion and curriculum designed for service learning and cultural exchange in the republic of Bulgaria located on the Balkan peninsula west of the Black Sea.  We will discover the culture and explore historical sites in cities such as, Sofia, Veliko Tornovo, Etara and Sozopol which are steeped in Bulgarian history.  The highlight of this trip involves the application of Occupational Therapy models of practice and service delivery in an international setting.  Under the direction of Occupational Therapists, the participants will be working in the town of Stolat in the Center for Accommodation of Elderly People facility to evaluate, assess, develop and implement individualized treatment interventions.  There will be specific instruction, meetings and discussions on the implementation of intermediate to advanced therapy techniques.  This will allow the participants to share knowledge of the field abroad while acquiring new clinical and cultural skills. The participants will gain valuable experiences and skills increasing their sensitivity towards cultural issues, understanding of global issues and personal and professional growth.

This partnership is in its third season.  To read about the 2017 trip check out this blog

Departure & Return Location

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)


CSUDH Occupational Therapy Graduate Students



ICOT is dedicated to fostering international connections and cultural understanding through sharing the tools and knowledge of occupational therapy.

One of the ways this mission is fulfilled is through creating opportunities for occupational therapy students to participate in international fieldwork experiences. The purpose of this trip is to explore another culture, learn about how occupational therapy works in Bulgaria, get to know some Bulgarian OT students, and participate in hands on service oriented rehabilitative learning experiences.

Occupational therapy promotes independence successful engagement and participation in meaningful activities. Through the therapeutic use of daily activities, people are able to grow, learn, heal, and become fulfilled in their daily lives.

Faculty Biosketch

Dr. Paul L. Penoliar is an Adjunct Professor of Occupational Therapy at CSUDH. He received his Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions (2016). He has over 17 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in several areas of practice from Level I Trauma Hospitals to Community-Based facilities with an emphasis on tertiary care in adults and geriatrics. The OT courses he teaches include kinesiology, case seminar, conditions and interventions for the Adult and Geriatric populations. He is currently researching the effectiveness of combining the Neurodevelopmental Treatment framework with Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy as a means to improve the recovery of motor control of clients with hemiparesis or hemiplegia after experiencing a cerebrovascular accident. He is a Clinical Instructor and Director of Occupational Therapy Services at the Joseph B. Jr. and Mary Anne O’Neal Carson Community Stroke Center in the City of Carson, CA where he trains interns the utilization of advanced therapy techniques focused on improving occupational performance with clients with neurological deficits. In addition, he serves as the International Program Coordinator developing the original curriculum for the Bulgaria internship in 2017 and the direction for clinical education for the Mazatlan, Mexico internship.

Jackie Devries is an Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at CSUDH. She has been a clinical instructor for CSUDH since 1999 instructing in a variety of courses including, adult conditions, intervention, case Seminar, adolescent conditions and interventions, history of Occupational Therapy and currently the adult assessments course with a focus on evaluating adults from a holistic point of view. Jackie has over 30 years of experience in a variety of practice settings including inpatient and community mental health, acute, acute rehab and outpatient therapy with an emphasis on brain injury, stroke and spinal cord injury. Jackie works full time at Providence Little Company of Mary San Pedro, managing the occupational and recreational therapy departments. Jackie is NDT certified and has a sub specialty in contracture management incorporating the use of serial casting to promote improved range of motion and function. She has presented on Behavioral Optometry and Occupational Therapy, behavior and agitation management with TBI, contracture management and serial casting, and cultural competent care. Jackie participated in the 2017 Bulgaria trip assisting and guiding the students on assessing and treating the residents at the Center for Accommodation of Elderly People. Jackie is very passionate about the profession of occupational therapy and treating individuals with respect, compassion and justice.

Day 1
Travel to Bulgaria

Flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Day 2

After a long intercontinental flight from the Los Angeles. Sofia is Bulgaria’s capital and its largest city. It is considered the country’s cultural and economic center. Check into the hotel to stretch your legs and get freshened up. We’ll depart the hotel for Vitosha Boulevard and depending on our arrival time take in some of the historical sites such as remnants of the Eastern Gate from the days of the Roman Empire when Sofia was Serdika and Sredets, dating from the 2nd and 4th centuries. We’ll end the evening with dinner at one of the multitude of restaurants on Vitosha Boulevard which is rife with shops and is one of the city’s main attractions for nightlife.

Day 3
Sofia and Stolat

We’ll pick up from where we left off on our tour of Sofia to begin the day. The tour will focus on the seat of power in Bulgaria beginning with the Presidential Palace and Parliament. We will experience the religious influences in Bulgaria touring Christian monuments such as Petka Smardzhlyska Church dating back to the 11th century and the Neo-Byzantine style St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. At the conclusion of the morning, we’ll take a drive towards the countryside to Sofia to settle into the Stone & Compass residence. Time permitting, we will meet and greet the Director and the Physiotherapist of the Center for Accommodation of Elderly People facility at dinner. Dinner will be held at the award winning Dan Kolov restaurant in the small town of Sennik adjacent to Stolat. The evening will culminate in lectures focused on review of Occupational Therapy Evaluation, Assessments and Treatment Planning in preparation for our first day of work at the Rehabilitation Center

Day 4

Today the focus will be meeting the selected residents we’ll be working with during the course of the week. We will perform the evaluations and assessments with the residents to identify the occupations, interests environmental factors and performance skill deficits affecting their performance. In addition, we will begin putting together the raised garden beds as part of the planned treatment interventions for the residents. That evening we will return to Stone & Compass for presentations on the Application of Therapeutic Exercise and an Introduction to Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. These techniques will be useful in discussions with your colleagues as we conclude the day with a treatment planning session.

Day 5
Stolat and Veliko Tornovo

We will complete the raised garden beds and begin planting local flora and vegetables with the residents. The day will continue with additional implementation of each group’s treatment intervention with the residents. We will depart from the Rehabilitation Center in the early evening and take a tour and shop in the city of Veliko Tornovo with an added hike up to Tsavarets Castle. We will conclude the day with a dinner meeting in Veliko Tornovo.

Day 6

The beginning of the day will start with an energizing breakfast at Dan Kolov. Today we will introduce copper tooling to the residents. Treatment intervention will continue with in-session adjustments with the residents to improve performance with a focus on developing the discharge plan.

Day 7
Open Air Ethnographic Museum (Etar) and Sozopol

Time to wrap up the week with the residents as we deliver the final treatment sessions ending early in the afternoon. We’ll leave each client a framed version of the copper tooling activity, as an enduring reminder of our work with them. The first stop on our journey will be the open air ethnographic museum in Etarra. Here we’ll learn about the architecture and lifestyle of the Gabrovo region during the 18th and 18th centuries. We will be introduced to the arts and crafts of Bulgaria and observe craftspeople making bells, pottery, confections, furs, and copper goods. We will arrive in the ancient beach town of Sozopol, check into Villa Sozopolis, tour the city and end the evening with dinner overlooking the Black Sea.

Day 8

Free day in Sozopol or as it was once named by the Greeks Apollonia on the Black Sea. It was one of the oldest towns used as a shipping port on the Black Sea coast dating back to the Bronze Age. Spend the day decompressing shopping, beach, poolside however you want to plan it. We’ll end this stunning week with dinner at Casa del Mare/art restaurant as the sunsets on our time at the Black Sea.

Day 9

Time to work our way back to Sofia and check back into the Premier Best Western Hotel near the airport. We conclude our trip with a final dinner together on Vitosha Boulevard as we reflect on the lives we touched, our personal growth and the indelible cultural experiences.

Day 10

Today we travel to the Greek city of Thessaloniki. The second largest city in Greece is a melting pot of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine and modern Europe.

Day 11

Continue exploring the ancient city of Thessaloniki.

Day 12
Travel Home

Flight back to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)


Price Includes

  • All Inclusive
  • Rountrip AirfareFrom LAX
  • Airport Fees/Taxes/Transfers
  • Lodging
  • Meals
  • Translator
  • Museum/Historical Site Admission Fees
  • Transportation
  • Tour Guide(s)
  • Bulgaria health insurance (30,000 euros)

Price Excludes

  • Private ExpensesSnacks, gifts, shopping, etc.

Payment can be made in full or following the payment schedule below.

Total Price




Due:  November 1, 2020

Final Payment


Due:  December 1, 2020