Raesa Kaiteris, our Associate Dean of Field Work, writes:
Through our collaborative arrangement with a Canadian agency, Christian Horizons Global, we created a nine month field work internship for one of our Block students, Maurice Koetsier, in Assela,
While WSSW's commitment to faculty advisement in the field--unique among the New York City schools of social work--had resulted in visits to placements all over the
U.S., Canada, Paris, and Israel, this was the first time we had "placed" a student in Africa!
As his faculty advisor, I had the opportunity to visit with him for a week in February of 2010. It gave me an opportunity to become acquainted with the people of Assela as well as the remarkable work of several NGOs dedicated to improving their living conditions. They faced problems such as poverty, drought, sub-standard housing and limited access to education.
Needless to say, Maurice made remarkable strides in his practice skills as well as his self-awareness. Cultural sensitivity was no classroom exercise in this part of the world. He was obliged to develop programs that were relevant to the local community and sustainable after he departed; it was also imperative that he deeply understood the distinction between “doing with” and “doing for.”
I hope Maurice's experience in Africa inspires other Block students to push the boundaries of traditional social work education. As our problems in the 21st century become more global, social work services must achieve a “global identity” in order to remain relevant and vital.