One of the important things that they drill into us at GSSW is SELF CARE! I’m sure you’ve read other blog posts where people mention some of the things they do to balance out their lives and take care of themselves. Now that the weather is getting nice here in Denver, there are some really awesome ways to get some of that self care…
- Some friends and I have formed a volleyball team and we play four games a week at Wash Park. We entered a league through Sports Monster which is a great adult recreation league that offers sports such as basketball, broomball, dodgeball, kickball, ultimate frisbee, soccer, and many others throughout the year.
- I recently entered in a 5K race benefiting a non-profit organization called Girls on the Run of the Rockies. It’s an awesome agency that encourages healthy lifestyles for girls. Denver and surrounding cities offer regular opportunities to participate in similar races (you can find a list of them at Running Guru).
- Going to a Rockies game on the weekend is a great way to get outside and enjoy Denver’s spring time. You can either sit in the Rock Pile for only $4 or you can go on StubHub to get some great deals.
- Although I haven’t been there yet, I hear that Red Rocks Amphitheater is an amazing entertainment venue. This summer they have some great bands coming to play including O.A.R., Dispatch, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Ray LaMontagne, Bassnectar, and many more.
- BBQ-ing with friends is also a big hit when the weather gets nice and it is a great way to relax (self care!) on a graduate student budget.
These are definitely just a few of the outdoorsy self care options to partake in here in Denver–make sure to check them out when you get here!
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.
In addition to the passion for and serious work of social work education, GSSW’s staff and faculty are also engaged members of the Denver community in many different ways. Associate Clinical Faculty and Director of Field Education, Ann Petrila, recently graduated from the mainstream level of square dancing1 with the Rocky Mountain Rainbeaus (www.rainbeaus.org) – a local Denver-area LGBTQA high energy square dance club that is inclusive of straight dancers as well. Here she is shown with friend and fellow Rainbeau, Leo Gross, being silly at her graduation. Congratulations, Ann!
1Modern square dancing is much more than your 8th grade physical education classes’ allemande left and do-si-do. There are numerous levels (mainstream, plus, advanced, and challenge), with hundreds of calls that must be learned. For example, the mainstream level of square dancing alone has 69 different calls with some calls having three and four different variations for a total of 92 different permutations on those calls.
At GSSW there seems to be a pretty balanced population of students who came straight to graduate school from undergraduate and those folks that have been working in the field for anywhere from 1 year to 25 years. From my perspective, there are benefits to both and both groups have a lot to offer classroom discussions, each having a different perspective on those populations that we will serve.
As a student that worked for a number of years before returning to graduate school, I find that those people that have worked tend to have had their “perfect world” bubble burst long before now. When you enter the field of social work, regardless of what you studied as an undergraduate, there is a definite period of time when you realize how little you were taught about the reality of the world we live in and the work that we will do as social workers. You are provided with a new lens through which to look at the clients we serve, the challenges facing non-profits and the discrepancies between the goal of public policy and their actual outcomes.
I value the time I spent in the workforce and feel that I’m a better graduate student because of it. It allowed me to find out what I didn’t want to do as a professional social worker and helped clarify/narrow down what I did want to do. I also believe that the pressures of work environments taught me to be a better student than I was as an undergraduate (though I was still an overachiever then, too).
I’ve been pulled in two directions… I have to balance a tug of war between my competing attractions: international human rights and social work. One day, my thoughts slowly drift into an international world of theory. My brain is twisted in a million ways, forced to conceptualize the complexities of human rights and human wrongs. And then, the cloud that surrounds my thoughts dissipates and forces me to fall to land where community social work practice is my mantra.
It has been difficult to balance this double attraction, this multidimensional gravitation that seems to make my life incredibly complicated and incredibly interesting simultaneously. But…it is a worthwhile endeavor. I feel like my brain is being worked in every way possible, forced to understand the delicate and necessary balance between theory and practice. Who says I can’t have the best of both attractions?
Studying both international human rights and social work has opened my eyes to the diversity of options that lay before me as I enter the professional world. This coming summer, I will have to opportunity to spend two months in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I will have an international social work field placement that integrates my intersecting interests. It will allow me to explore international opportunities for professional development and understand the complexities of NGOs and international nonprofits. Importantly, knowledge from my international human rights education has opened my eyes to transnational migration flows that lead many people to the United States, people with whom I interact daily in my current field placement with a community organizing nonprofit. A global knowledge base contributes greatly to my understanding of social work practice and is increasingly important in our transnational world. Ultimately, I hope it leads me to an academic social work position, where I can work with future students in the classroom and contribute to scholarly knowledge about the intersection of globalization and social work.
In just a few short weeks, ECO Conscious, the new student organization at GSSW, will be hosting some important events during Earth Week! ECO’s mission: “to promote conservation and environmental justice within the social work profession and to demonstrate such principals in the classroom and community.” FLOW, For Love of Water, a documentary about the world water crisis, will be presented for several GSSW classes and will offer the opportunity for dialogue about social work’s role in the environmental crisis. On Saturday, April 23, members of GSSW will also have the opportunity to participate in the S. Platte River Clean-Up with other local organizations. In an effort to generate dialogue and action in the social work community around environmental issues, Earth Week will be a great way for the social work community’s involvement in global and local issues.
This weekend I had the opportunity to participate in a unique activity with my internship. I intern with Girl Scouts of Colorado. Since Denver is the capitol of Colorado our local Girl Scouts have the opportunity to participate in numerous events that involve our political atmosphere. Last Saturday they participated in “Earth Hour.”
Xcel Energy sponsored our event and offered each Girl Scouting family to bring in their old incandescent light bulbs to trade out for Compact Fluorescent Bulbs that use less energy and create less waste. Also at the event our local Council staff (myself included) hosted a table where the girls could fold paper cranes to send to Japan in support of the recent tsunami and earthquake that happened March 11th. Each girl was able to make a few cranes to send off and then also received a instruction sheet for how to make more if they choose to.
It was powerful to be a part of this event – mostly because I got to witness young girls being involved in important issues like energy conservation and international support efforts. If young people make a habit of things like this early on, they are more likely to continue doing it in their future. Yay for empowering young girls!!
Here are some pictures from the event: