Sesquicentennial Event: Surviving the Srebrenica Genocide.

The first time that I walked through the Genocide Memorial Cemetery in Srebrenica-Potočari, Bosnia, I was struck by how peaceful it felt.  The surrounding hills were beautiful, wild flowers were everywhere and the sky was impossibly blue. Rows of thousands of white tombstones, however, made me quickly realize that what happened in that place in 1995 was anything but peaceful.  It was there that thousands of men and boys were slaughtered in the worst genocide in Europe since WWII.


As the Director of DU’s International Service Learning Bosnia & Herzegovina (ISL BiH) program, and the faculty lead for The Social Work Response in Post-War Bosnia course, I have since had the opportunity to visit Srebrenica many times when I bring DU students to Bosnia each summer.  During these trips, we have the honor of working with Hasan Hasanović, the curator and interpreter at this memorial.  Mr. Hasanović survived the 1995 genocide, although most of his family did not.  I have always hoped that he could come to DU where he would be able to have an impact on so many more people than just those who come with me to Bosnia. We are so fortunate to be hosting him as part of the DU Sesquicentennial.

The world promised that the Holocaust would be the last genocide.  Fifty years later, it happened again in Bosnia.  The world knew it was happening, and the world stood by.  Mr. Hasanović has an important story to tell about the human experience of war, genocide and resilience of spirit.  After listening to him speak, we will all be challenged to think about our responsibility toward the innocent victims of war, genocide and other human rights violations.

I hope that you will join us to hear this remarkable man tell his remarkable story.  He will be speaking at the DU Graduate School of Social Work in Craig Hall on Wednesday, January 29, at 4:30.  Please click here for information and registration.

 Ann Petrila
Clinical Associate Professor
Director of Field Education at GSSW
Director of International Service Learning Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Morning After……..oh wait, actually a week later

  • I see some student blogs about the Field Fair that was held last week which signals our official start to the internship search for next academic year.  Since then, all of our current first year students and our incoming Advanced Standing students have started interviewing for next year’s internships.  A few students have found a match but most are still setting up interviews and meeting potential supervisors.  At the same time our incoming first year students have also started their search.  It’s probably safe to say that it is a rare agency in Denver who is not interviewing students for next year’s internships.  If you have decided to come to GSSW and have deposited then you should have heard from our field department about setting up a meeting with one of us.  (If you deposited 45 seconds ago then it might be a day or two before you hear from us so hang tight).

    Because this is the season for internship searching, we continue to partner with new agencies.  Last week brought 10 new agencies to our attention, including clinical sites as well as community internships with some of the highest ranking MSWs in the state.  This week we have several more new agencies to visit. When we are out in the community meeting with potential internship agencies, we are always reminded of the social work dedication that is out there in our agencies and organizations.  Somebody (a lawyer)  recently said to me that he thinks social workers are one of the few remaining groups of people who do things for the right reasons……..I think that is quite a compliment for our profession, don’t you?

    While it is always exciting to partner with new agencies, it is also always a treat to see our current agencies at Field Fair.  How we manage to fit almost 150 agencies into one place with all of our continuing students is an event-planning feat that could only be accomplished by Andy, our Field Program Administrator.  It has come to our attention many times that we are the “Ann & Andy” show and we are often asked where our Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls are–not the most original joke but anyway….  This question took new meaning at the end of Field Fair when our colleague David Rossi took pictures of the field team for the GSSW archives.   Included in these pictures, as you can see, are the newest members of the field team–Raggedy Ann & Andy.  For the first pictures taken, Andy & I weren’t available so David used the dolls as “place holders” for us–I’m not sure what to think about that but nevertheless…David tells us that these were his dolls from his childhood and that he always was afraid of them.  We have assured  him that we all have family-of-origin issues to deal with and hopefully he can now begin to put his fear of dolls behind him–he didn’t sound too optimistic about this but we’ll see.

    We are very serious about helping students in the internship search process but we also know that in social work, a little laughter goes a long way toward keeping us all going.

    We’d love to have you stop by the field office if you are visiting GSSW.  You will be greeted by the real Ann & Andy, as well as the rest of our team.


    If only………………….

    If only we could pay our internship supervisors for the work that they do with GSSW students.  Unfortunately, almost all supervisors and field instructors agree to have a student intern because they are interested in being part of our students’ training and education.  Over and over again we hear field instructors say things like “it is my way of giving back to the profession” or “I remember how important my supervisor was to me and I want to help a student learn”.  We are very fortunate to have such a large pool of dedicated field instructors.

    In order to be a field instructor or MSW supervisor, people must have had their MSW for a minimum of 2 years.  They also need to be willing to spend the time that is needed to supervise a student and they need to know their area of social work practice well enough to teach somebody else. They also have to come to a field instructor training here at GSSW.  Some of my favorite days here are those when we have supervisor trainings.  Our field instructors are totally cool and it is a real treat when they are in the building!  They are excited about having students and they really work hard to do a good job.  They are open to feedback which goes a long way if there are problems that need to be solved.

    We couldn’t do what we do here without the partnership of our field instructors.  If you come to GSSW you will interview for your internships.  We will encourage you to make sure that you fit well with the person who will be your supervisor. This is sometimes even more important than the setting that you are in or the specific work that you are doing because the most progress toward becoming a professional social worker comes through the guidance of a good supervisor.

    Sometimes students intern at a place where they have more than one supervisor.  You will always have an MSW supervisor but you might also have what we call a Task Supervisor.  Task supervisors need to have an advanced degree and/or need to have been in the field long enough to be able to supervise an MSW student.  For example, there might be somebody who has worked in a geriatric setting for 30 years but who does not have an MSW.  That extremely experienced person might play a role in your supervision, along with your MSW supervisor. In other situations there might be a psychologist or nurse or teacher or doctor or even a lawyer who will be part of your supervisory team.

    Let me know if you have any questions about our internship program.  I can “talk internship” all day!

    How are agencies picked as internship sites?

    I’ve gotten several questions recently about how we pick our internship sites.  There are several ways that agencies and GSSW become partners.  Continue reading “How are agencies picked as internship sites?”

    It’s official! The only thing worse than my singing is my dancing.

    It was proven Saturday night that indeed, the only thing worse than my singing is my dancing.  In honor of GSSW’s  80th anniversary, we held a student event called Dancing with the Dean.  It was a smashing success with students, staff and faculty all learning Continue reading “It’s official! The only thing worse than my singing is my dancing.”

    Welcome to Field 101

    I would imagine that you are nervous thinking about graduate school.  I assure you that your nervousness is nothing compared to mine learning how to write a blog.  In social work we are always looking to improve our skill set and learning to blog Continue reading “Welcome to Field 101”