Project Bosnia and Herzegovina: International Service Learning and Social Work

My departure for Bosnia and Herzegovina is fast approaching. With 3 class sessions at DU, participants in this year’s 8-week international service learning experience in Bosnia have the opportunity to learn about one another and build a historical context around the Balkan Wars and genocide. In-class discussions are often overwhelming, revealing the despair and pain continually endured by the Bosnian people. However, as I personally prepare for an international internship and begin to understand the complexities of the human spirit, specifically the resilience that propels people forward in their lives, I am excited to engage in a learning process grounded in individual and community experience.

From readings, film clips, and images, Sarajevo appears to be a vibrant community, touting a coffee culture, cobblestone roads, and mountain greenery. Though Bosnia’s recent conflict leaves an unsettling feeling and uncertainty of how to tread in a culturally responsive way, maintaining focus on the totality of human experience, a holistic perspective that enables me to understand human experience in all of its relationships and connections, reminds me to be open to and aware of those facets of Bosnian life that maintain and create meaning.

I am excited to begin my learning journey in Bosnia, with local Sarajevans, fellow classmates, and the broader environment. It is an opportunity to explore how I, as a social worker, fit into the international community. It is also an opportunity to grow as an individual, to simply be, and develop social, emotional, and physical connections with my surroundings.

Check out the following Lonely Planet video about Sarajevo:


Denver Family Institute and GSSW

As many of you may have noticed, GSSW offers tons of ways for you to customize your MSW degree. These offerings are there in conjunction to the multitude of internship opportunities to give you specialized knowledge in areas that you are interested in practicing once you have graduated.

A list of certificates can be found at:

I specifically have been interested in the Animal Assisted Social Work Certificate. That is what I came to DU to pursue. Little did I know that I could also go after another certificate (not all will allow you to do two, so please check to see if your interest allows you to go after two certificates). After spending a lot of time in the classroom and time in the field I have decided that Families and Couples are my favorite population. They are who I want to work with in a clinical setting after graduation. DU’s joint program with Denver Family Institute (DFI)  is a great way to get additional specialized training and intense supervision in that particular area. This last weekend I spent 6 hours on Saturday interviewing for the few slots they hold open for GSSW students. Luckily, I got one!!

This means that during my concentration year I will be taking classes at DU and at DFI. I will have two sets of supervision each week and will be working directly with clients, honing my skills as a couples and family therapist. When I am done with my classes at DFI (one day a week for an additional year after GSSW graduation). I will have all the classes required to take the LMFT exam (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) along with hours clocked toward my LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). Talk about kill two birds with one stone. I am beyond thrilled!

If you have an interest in working with couples and families, I urge you to look into the DFI/DU program offered here at GSSW. It is a unique learning experience that adds focus and richness to your educational experience at GSSW!

Visit DFI’s Website here:

Happy Trails!


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.


    A Double Attraction…

    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.

    Track / Certificate / Program Information Sessions 2011 part 2 (VIDEO)

    The following track / certificate / program information sessions are intended for students as they plan their concentration for the academic year 2011-2012.  Requirements and specific offerings change from year to year, so always check your student handbook for accurate information.
    Continue reading “Track / Certificate / Program Information Sessions 2011 part 2 (VIDEO)”

    Adoption Agency

    As a first year student I am in my field experience 16 hours per week.  Currently, I am working with an adoption agency providing support to parents and families that would like to adopt children.

    The waiting child program works with families that are looking to adopt a child(ren) that are currently in the foster care system.  These children may still be legal risk, meaning their biological parents still have parental rights (and therefore the family must support the child being reunified with bio parents or until the parental rights have been terminated) or the children are legally free, meaning that the parental rights of their biological parents have been terminated.  I compete adoptive families home studies which allows them to be a certified foster and adoptive home, complete post placement visits (visits with the family and child(ren) after the child has come to live with the family) that last between 6-9 months depending on how quickly the adoption is finalized, and assist families in looking for children that match their desires.  Children can come from local counties, the state of CO or any where in the U.S.

    This is an experience unlike anything else I have ever done in my career as a social worker.  It has already given me an opportunity to learn more about the child welfare system in the state of Colorado as well as the legal challenges of adopting children abroad.

    I will remain in this placement through the academic year and will finish with families that are nearing their adoption date through the summer.