I was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Annual Research Symposium of the Occupational Therapy Department at Colorado State University, and for part of my presentation last week I focused on the increasing globalization of our profession. I talked some about the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, a world wide organization that celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. WFOT now has 56 members compared to the initial 10 members who met as founders in 1952. It’s very interesting to see which countries were included in the original list of members and also to see the list of 56 current members — http://www.wfot.org. WFOT has been recognized by the World Health Organization since 1959 and by the United Nations since 1963.
Since my initial posting on this blog site in late August of last year (just a little more than eight months ago), hits on the blog site have come from 34 different countries representing the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia/Oceania (for some reason the world’s fifth continent, Antarctica, has been slow to catch on :-)). I got very excited when I discovered the link to this information — complete with a world map. Thirty-four countries seems like an amazingly high number to me. I know that many of these hits likely come from non-OT users who are just browsing on the web. Nevertheless, the number makes me feel very connected to the far reaches of the world — very global.
My own professional life and my understandings of occupation have been greatly deepened by the international contacts and collaborations in which I have engaged. I was slow to come to this recognition of the value of international linkages in occupational therapy. My first attendance at a WFOT Congress did not occur until Montreal in 1998, over 30 years into my career. I think such recognition will come earlier to colleagues new to the field today, given the technology now available to us and the speed at which information travels around the world. This is an exciting time for us all in our ever expanding world of occupational therapy and occupational science.