This is a guest blog post by Crystal Winkelman, a St. Cloud State University student currently participating on CGEE’s program, “Social Work in a Latin American Context.”
The first month and a half in Cuernavaca has been such an adventure! It started off rocky with about five days in bed with a viral infection, a bacterial infection, and a delayed plane ride! Although the first week was not the adventure I had hoped for, it soon turned into more of what I was hoping for. Having the opportunity to visit the rural area of Amatlan showed me a way of life that I would not have gotten the opportunity to experience otherwise. Hiking up a mountain with my host family to see the beautiful mountains and town of Amatlan before sunset was my favorite memory with my host family. (Middle right)
On Monday, September 28th, 2015, Providence College joined Augsburg College and several other institutions in the Social Work in Mexico Consortium.
The Mexico Consortium is an organization of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accredited social work programs in Minnesota and South Dakota.
CGEE is very excited to welcome Providence College students on our spring semester social work programs, the mission of which is to develop cross-culturally competent, ethical social work professionals with a global perspective by providing a semester of transformative, experiential learning focused on social and economic justice.
In addition to welcoming PC students on the program, PC Faculty will also be able to review and contribute to the curriculum, with future opportunities to serve in Mexico as faculty director.
The Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Consortium in Mexico operates the Social Work in a Latin American Context program, which takes place in Cuernavaca each spring. Read on to find out about the program, benefits, and membership.
The consortium was formed with the goal of providing a cross-cultural and academic study abroad opportunity for BSW students that also met requirements set forth by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). The program is rooted in:
Social justice and transformational learning
Global and intercultural social work/social welfare context immersion
Preparing culturally competent professionals to serve diverse populations
The program’s inaugural semester was in 2003. The program won CSWE’s Global Commission “Partners in International Social Work Education Award” in 2006, and “Best Practices in International Education International Exchange Award” from the Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education (NASPA) in 2014.
Post by Social Work in a Latin American Context student Carissa Franklin
When talking about the UNAM curriculum in comparison to the curriculum in the U.S., there are similarities, but also differences. At UNAM, you begin in the School of Social Work with classes as soon as you enter. There are nine semesters of only social work classes to obtain a Bachelor’s degree. In the U.S., that equates to about 4 ½ years, of just social work! In the U.S., in order to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work there is at most 2 ½ years of social work classes, which is about 4 semesters. You may ask – what happened to their general classes? Well, those come in what we would call high school and what they label as prepatoria. I feel it is a more holistic and complete system when you look at it from the levels that come before the university. Here is a picture of their class schedule by semester. You can see they have classes in social problems, social investigation, rural problems, social movements, public health, family structure, and practicum. The classes are color coordinated by subject. Yellow is social/historical area, gold is social policy/needs, orange is person in the environment, and maroon is methodology and practicum in social work. In my opinion, the curriculum here is comprehensive.
Upcoming UNAM curriculum changes will affect practicum sites. It will be to focus on projects of intervention with one population at the three levels they work at. This is for more skills for the job market and not isolated skills and specialization in Bachelor’s degree, when in the U.S. we specialize at the Master’s level. For instance, street kids could be the population that a social worker can focus on. The first level is community so the social workers would become familiar with the problem in a certain community, working to understand and find resources. At the next level – regional – the social worker finds other communities with this problem and asks, ¨how can institutions help me?¨ The last level – specialization – the social worker would work with institutions that help with their specific problem. This is the biggest change the social work curriculum would go through.
They are also looking at changing around some classes. In comparison to the curriculum we see in the U.S., when looking at the School of Social Work curriculum from UNAM, which classes are programs in the U.S. not offering? When our group saw some of the classes they were taking, we wished we had the opportunity to take some. We also questioned some of the changes they were making in regards to how the practicum will soon function. Is it better to stay with the same population throughout a practicum experience or multiple populations? There were a lot of questions from our group because this system in general, and with the proposed changes, makes it so different from our system. For our practicum sites, we usually focus on individuals, then start focusing on communities and broader. For a practicum and in relation to work done in social work settings, should practicum experience during undergraduate go from broader – for instance, community work – to narrow, individual work, or should it be opposite? I’ve proposed these questions for others to think about when it comes to the social work degree and curriculum in our two different settings.
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Our group was able to participate in an exchange with the National School of Social Work at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) from April 6-10. We participated in many activities during this week-long exchange. The campus is huge; I’m sure we didn’t even see half of it. In our time spent at UNAM, we were able to receive a tour of the central campus and learn more about the murals. The murals that we saw during our tour were located in the part of campus that they call the cultural center.
We also sat in on a class and the professor spoke about values. Sitting in the classroom, we were able to see the differences in what we consider appropriate in the class and what we think is not appropriate. We were also reminded of the cultural contexts we were in and took time to brainstorm about the reasons why we felt uneasy about what we witnessed. We had visits to two different practicum sites. One of the practicum sites was set at a community level and the other at the specialization level. Another tour we were able to participate in was of their musical arts. We learned about their different theaters, museums, and sat in on an orchestra’s practice session. Other activities of the week included a visit to their botanical garden, Frida Kahlo museum, and a boat ride at Xochimilco a lake in Mexico City. The most interesting part of our visit for me was hearing about their School of Social Work curriculum, which will be focused on in the next blog.
This post was written by CGEE staff member Lucy Hardaker, who works at the Minneapolis office at Augsburg College.
When I traveled to Cuernavaca, Mexico this April, I got a glimpse of the life of a CGEE student in Mexico. I landed at the Mexico City airport, where the CGEE driver, Ismael, came to pick me up. He was incredibly friendly, and chatted with me during our 2 hour drive to Cuernavaca, and taught me about Mexico. As a Cuernavaca native, he is very knowledgeable about the region and culture!
For the next two (intensive) days, I observed and participated in the student semester experience. I visited an elementary school where our students intern teaching English, visited a host family, got a tour of the town, participated in class activities, saw guest speakers, and met the students from UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) who spend two weeks with the social work students.
Cuernavaca is a very balanced and accessible city in which to study. It’s not an overly large or sprawling city, but it is also not too small – it has many great shops, cafes, events, and theaters to keep students busy. It’s not “touristy”, so you can get the full Mexico cultural experience. And perhaps one other wonderful perk – it’s BEAUTIFUL!
Aside from the city being marvelous for a study abroad experience, the staff on site are also wonderful people. Each one brings their own expert knowledge and insight about Mexican culture, the town of Cuernavaca, and their respective academic disciplines. They are all kind-hearted and fun-loving, and I had an absolute blast getting to meet them in person!
Who wouldn’t want this great experience in a cool town with fun people?! Thanks to the entire Cuernavaca team for making my visit memorable.
These photos are from Augsburg Student, Amy Theurer, as she studies abroad on the Social Work program in Mexico! Find us on our Facebook page to post comments on the social work students’ other blog posts.
This blog is written by Social Work study abroad student LaTiona Washington. We welcome comments on this blog on Facebook, just follow this direct link to the post.
The definition of a social worker in a hospital in Morelos is one word – “wow.” Unlike in the US, the job of a social worker is extensive in a hospital setting. It begins with your initial intake, with one of the three social workers. They ask you for your name, age, status, religion (in the United State’s, social workers are not allowed to ask about your religion), and insurance. They also ask about your income, family, and home condition, which are verified with pictures. Social workers here in Morelos train doctors on educational talks, birth and death certificates, and on how to deal with deaths. Social workers also make home visits with a driver and no one else. The social worker takes photos of the house, analyzes the family, and makes a map of the home. It was interesting to find out they made maps of the houses because we recently had to make a map of our internship, which showed the areas of communication and interactions within the internship. Also, hospital social workers have to report to the police whenever children and elderly get admitted. This is a requirement, especially if the child has been back frequently. The police then contact the DIF (Mexican Institution of Social Assistance for the Welfare of the Family). Always after a child or elderly person is released, they do a follow-up at their home.
Reflecting on the work of a social worker leaves me speechless, thinking of how valuable a social worker is here at Parres. I wonder if, in the US, we could incorporate the question about religion and how different it would make the health practice. Would there be a change? Also, how would doctors feel about being trained by social workers? The job of a social worker in the hospital is huge, and I didn’t even cover it all. Without the social workers, there would be a gap in the hospital care and function, making social workers very valuable.
This year is the 9th year that the Center for Global Education in Nicaragua has hosted nursing students from Boston College for a short-term study abroad program. Each year, the week yields new insights both for the group and our staff. Namely, the importance of coming face to face with the worlds poor is once perpetually reaffirmed.
Three professors, three nurse practitioner students and eight undergraduate nursing students spent the week working in the Jubilee House Clinic. This clinic is in Nueva Vida, a marginalized community located on the outskirts of the city of Managua. After working in the clinic each morning, the group spent afternoons visiting people who live with HIV and AIDS. They were also able to hear the stories from those with chronic kidney disease. Another highlight was visiting Nicaragua’s national university to meet with local professors of nursing. The week closed with a beautiful day swimming and relaxing in volcanic crater lake- Laguna de Apoyo.