Social Work during the Summer: Where the Classroom and Field Meet

It’s hard to believe that we are already several weeks into the new school year. With the next school year in the distant future, I remember back to the busyness of writing final papers, taking exams, and ending my field placement at the end of April. Now looking back, summer flew by! For me, this summer was an opportunity to expand upon my foundation year classroom and field learning and inform my practice this year.

So…I bet you’re wondering, what does an MSW student do with his or her summer? MSW students do a number of things, such as catching up on lost sleep and fun hobbies, traveling, spending time with family and friends, working a job in the RDU area or taking an internship elsewhere. For me, I chose the latter. My grandest adventure of the summer began only four days after I turned in my final paper when I packed up my bags and headed to Kenya!

I spent two months interning with a local organization, Uhuru Child, at an all girls’ boarding school near Limuru, Kenya. As a counseling intern, I worked with students one-on-one, provided training to the schools’ teachers, implemented a peer counseling training, and led a girls’ empowerment club, G.L.O.W Club. Many of the school’s students came from internal displaced people (IDP) camps located in the Great Rift Valley. As a result of the post-election violence in 2011, thousands of families from the Kikuyu tribe were displaced and resettled. I had the privilege to work with girls from these IDP camps and other parts of Kenya.

As I begin my second year in the program, I reflect upon how my summer experience will inform my second year at the School of Social Work. It will affect my work in my field placement this year working with children and families, sculpt my classroom discussions and view of readings in coursework, and how I interpret and practice social work values and ethics, such as cultural humility. Social work education extends far beyond the classroom, and summer is a wonderful opportunity for students like myself to further learning in the profession.

 UChild        UChild2
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