This week's blog is guest-written by Lisa Tokpa, the Social Work Coordinator for Uganda Studies Program. Lisa maintains relationships with all the organizations where USP social work students intern, teaches the social work practicum class, and supports social work students during their time at USP. You also may be lucky enough to end up in one of her general studies practicum classes! Thanks Lisa!
“You will know your vocation by the joy that it gives you.”
~ Dorothy Day
~ Dorothy Day
Every semester USP students embark on an adventure marked by growth that can only happen through relationships. One of these key relationships is between students and their supervisors. For senior social work students conducting at least 400 practicum hours, this relationship has even more potential to be transformative. But this doesn’t come without work. Just like any relationship, it takes honest communication and time, but can reap rewards even beyond expectations.
|Fall 2018 Social Work Practicum Site Supervisors.|
Before students step foot in Uganda, supervisors gather together to connect and learn from one another’s experiences supervising American social work undergraduate students. It’s not an easy thing -- connecting with and teaching students from a very different context with expectations that have been forming over years, seeing exciting growth as they fully invest in one student who all-too-quickly leaves to make way for the next. But these professionals keep committing to a process that we are all committed to at USP – teaching the next generation the value of difference and diversity, and how to effectively engage in a globalized world.
Working in the midst of incredible suffering, students are challenged by the joy that is emitted by these Ugandan mentors. With fascination, they can’t help but ask, “How do you keep going?” Supervisor’s responses, both verbal and in action every day, teach students about the power of community, humility in acknowledging our limitations, sustaining compassion, and continuing to be joyful in this broken world.
We, as USP, are incredibly grateful to these amazing people who continue to be patient with our students, investing in their learning every day, and inspire them with a joy that cannot be explained.
“I have learned so much about social work in Uganda and just being a social worker in general through my supervisor and coworkers. My supervisor is a strong, courageous woman who knows who she is and what her mission is in life. She has deep passion for working with children through Compassion and specifically for working with their mothers and fathers to ensure that their family is healthy and able to make the best life for them. She challenges me to be bold when working with clients and she has showed me how to deal with social issues related to Ugandan families, specifically domestic violence, within this cultural context. I want to be like her when I “grow up”. Social work practice here looks like a family welcoming you into their home, sitting with them in the comfort of their own house instead of in an office setting, maybe hitting guavas out of the guava tree in their yard and checking out their pigs and sheep, as well as maybe leaving their home with a giant papaya or stalk of sugar cane. They [co-workers] teach me to relax a little more in my role as a social worker; being open to the families we are working with while also maintaining professional boundaries.”
~Suzanna Knarr (Senior SWE)
|Suzanna and her supervisor Liz Nanseko.|
***"Doing my practicum at Kisoga Child Development Center has become my second home here in Uganda. My supervisor Miriam has helped me gain confidence to be open and comfortable when working with diverse clients. She shows humility to everyone she encounters and it is truly inspiring to see the hard work she does for her clients. She is so personable and relatable, and she plays a big part in my growth in the field of social work. "
~Kasey Wood (Senior SWE)
|Kasey and her supervisor, Miriam Kiwanuka.|
"When Rose greets someone, she greets them with love. When she speaks to someone, she speaks to them in love. When she is present with people, she is present in love. Over the past months I have had the opportunity to encounter what it means to love on a deeper level from my supervisor, Rose. From highlighting the importance of connections in relationships throughout the healing journey of patients and families, to being open about the concern for the well being of all people that walk through Acheru's doors; whether they are in the age bracket or not; Rose is present in love. Over the course of this semester, we have been using language around who our "monks" are while we are here in Uganda. These monks can be classified as people who accept and invite you on this season of life with them and guide you along patterns of living in Uganda. Rose has been a monk to me, and I am so grateful for her insight, humility, and presence of love as I venture on this pilgrimage through life in Uganda."