The certificate program consists of 4 mandatory classes and a field placement that includes at least 30% time in Spanish. The four classes are:
1. Critical Perspectives in the Latino Context: taught by Oscar Samoza, this class is a great way to get a taste for using Spanish academically and to draw upon the wealth of knowledge Oscar brings to the table. Less focused and structured than other classes, this was also a great space to get to know classmates and hear about Oscar’s background. This was on class that was always a joy to go to. Oscar is open to discussing anything anyone may have curiosity about, including slang and Latino film.
2.Social Work and Mexican Culture: this class is the trip to Puebla, MX. I know in the future students will have the option of going to Costa Rica which honestly saddens me a bit. Especially if you are invested in the politics of immigration and working with Latinos/as in Colorado, Mexico seems indispensable. The two weeks in Puebla ended up affecting me very profoundly as a Mexican-American and as a social worker. While the immersion part of the trip is really up to everyone in the room (and at times was difficult to keep up), the cultural immersion and educational components were extremely impactful in deepening my understanding of US-Mexico relations and the experience of everyday people.
3. Social Work Interventions with Latinos/as: this was a great way to continue connecting with students from the trip as well as others passionate about affecting change with/for this population. This course covered a wide variety of topics and lent itself to the clinical context, particularly challenging in Spanish. The guest speakers were fabulous and the site visits worthwhile. This might be tough for my fellow macro folks but helpful nonetheless.
4. Social Development in Latin America: I have yet to take this course and will updated when I do! So far, I have heard good things and know it will be offered over two weekends in English.
Aside from the academic aspect of this program, there is a strong community-building component. Personally, I had hoped to make stronger ties at GSSW, however that can be a challenge with the quarter system where there are long breaks and extreme bouts of busy-ness. The certificate program was exactly what I needed and I feel very close to those in the program. The two people I roomed with are people I spend a lot of time with now.
In addition to classroom learning and friendship, the certificate coordinator, Stephen Von Merz is a really great support system. His experience and willingness to share expertise is invaluable. I personally have gained a lot from him being my adviser and have come to consider him a mentor.
All in all, the Certificate for Social Work with Latinos/as has been extremely formative in my graduate education, shaping my passions, cementing my language abilities, and linking me to amazing individuals.