Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Interning with AS – The Importance of Speech Therapy

Interning with AS – The Importance of Speech Therapy in the life of a child born with a cleft palate

By Hui

My name is Hui Feng and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Speech Language Pathology. My ultimate goal is to become a pediatric speech-language pathologist. I have a longstanding interest in working with children with cleft lip and palate. To pursue this passion, I have participated in mission trips with Operation Smiles in the past. I led a group of medical volunteers as the “pre-operation” team, with the task of helping patients and their parents through final examinations before surgery. I arranged for volunteers to play with the children and also cared for the parents because their emotional state had an impact on the children.

In order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the tasks involved in pre and post-mission trips and the daily operations of a non-profit organization, I decided to join Austin Smiles as an intern. As my internship draws to a close in the spring of 2023, I can confidently say that I have learned a lot from a variety of tasks and the guidance of Renee, Ellise, and other interns. I have come to realize how critical donations are in running Austin Smiles, and the importance of support from local businesses in
our community in our ability to raise funds for medical missions. It has been an enjoyable experience coordinating with different companies for donations and ensuring that details are communicated effectively. I have also learned a lot about picking up donations and dropping off medical supplies at hospitals. Meeting like-minded people who share a passion for helping others has been a rewarding
experience. During my time at Austin Smiles, I have also gained an understanding of the fundamental aspects of a non-profit organization’s financial condition through updating budgets and spending for trips.

Participating in painting name tags for children in Camp Amigo, a unique camp experience for children with cleft lip/palate, was also a highlight of my internship.
However, my favorite part of this internship was participating in the board meeting and pre-triage meeting, which gave me a deeper understanding of the overall organization of Austin Smiles. The patient selection process before mission trips was intriguing, and one particular doctor’s comment resonated with me. He emphasized that effective communication is more important than physical appearance. This reminded me that one does not need to have a perfect look to earn a job, but rather effective communication skills.

Working with Austin Smiles has been a wonderful experience, and I intend to carry forward the knowledge and skills I have gained to continue helping children with cleft and palate. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to what the future holds.

Hui Feng, Global Public Health Intern Spring 2023

The University of Texas at Austin


1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

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