WCU Dental Hygiene Students Embark on Inaugural International Oral Health Program to Australia

West Coast University-Orange County Dental Hygiene students embarked on the trip of a lifetime as the first group to attend the International Oral Health trip to Australia! The group of eight students spent two weeks exploring various areas of the region and learning from the local university in Bendigo. 

Upon arrival at La Trobe University, the group received a traditional cultural welcome by the Djadjawurrung tribe. 

“We were welcomed by a local aboriginal group that did a traditional welcome,” Aubrey Croteau said. “The ceremony is meant to help us have safe travels back home and to ward off any evil vibes or anything negative that we may have so that we can enjoy our visit here as well as go back home safe.”

While in Bendigo, the students were able to participate in classes at La Trobe University, observe a clinic at Bendigo Hospital and host an oral health public health fair for the students of La Trobe University. 

“We got to reach out to the different college students from La Trobe and teach them about oral pathology, periodontal disease, and dental caries,” Courtney Viola said. 

The group also had the opportunity to explore the Australian countryside. While in the bush, they saw kangaroos and rode the Paddle Steamer on the Murray River to learn about the gold rush and history of Bendigo.

“We’ve been able to experience so many things not just academically but culturally as well,” Kevin said. “I’m in love with Australia, the food and the people. Plus all the kangaroos all-around kind of just makes me happy.” 

The trip ended in Melbourne, Australia where the students celebrated their final night at a silent disco in the Victoria open-air market. 

“I had never traveled outside of the country so it was something really different for me to experience,” Courtney Welch said. “It was really cool to see how things are done in a different country but it was still the same mindset of wanting to improve people’s oral health. Overall I thought it was a really cool experience and I learned a lot and I felt like there were things I can take back and incorporate into my own practice.”

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