Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday and Half Way!

This has been a difficult and disappointing week.  Sometimes it seems as if you think you have turned a corner, something important has happened, and then bam!  Right in your face you see the evidence that it is not so.  The reasons are often disappointing when you see the very things you think you have accomplished unraveling in front of you.  But, that is the way of community work: it is not steady, and there are many ups and downs and backs and forths.  That is the way of educating social workers, as well.  Somehow, I have to trust that it will all work out, but it is difficult at times.  There are those in the profession who want the gates narrower and the hurdles higher; there are those who want the laissez faire approach and let the "market" deal with it; there are those who have no idea what they want.  All I can say is that I have always tried to have a somewhat balanced approach: looking for the times there should be an exception or an extenuating circumstance and looking for the person who "always" has something going on and is always seeing herself or himself as the exception, and deciding what to do about that in regard to the ethical obligation we bear to protect the public from those who cannot or will not practice professionally.  Anyone who thinks that teaching is a "plum" job has clearly never done it.  The decisions we make affect people's lives: the students, their future clients, the future of the profession.  It is indeed a heavy burden to bear at times, and one that I do not take lightly.

On a different note, today was the meeting for the committee on which I serve regarding International Student programs.  We were learning about a program for students for other countries to study for a year in America, with financial assistance.  The countries of eligibility are limited to date (the State Department selects them) but still, it is exciting to be a part of this and think about the opportunities for the exchanges.  Certainly I am a believer in the idea of traveling and meeting with, living with, and learning with people from other cultures and nations changes our entire perception of the world.  My work with Pastors for Peace, in South Africa, in the Pribilof Islands of Alaska, and other places has convinced me that understanding comes from being with people.  There is nothing like your actual experience there to help you see if what you read and hear in the news is accurate or propaganda.

My experiences in South Africa are nothing like many of the things I had been and have been told by people who left South Africa; my experiences with people who have been to Cuba are nothing like what I read in the news about Cuba.  Indeed, travel and meeting other people is the way to open our minds and hearts to the realities of others' lives.

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