Hello! My name is Catherine Wells and I am thrilled for my field placement in Mumbai, India! An international placement was a goal I had prior to my acceptance into UB’s MSW program. My desire to do international social work blossomed during a volunteer trip to a small fishing village in Ecuador. I witnessed how a patriarchal society kept women in a low power position and significantly limited their educational and financial opportunities. What I also saw was ethnocentrism and an ineffective “top-down” approach to working with the community by some Americans. I marveled at the complexity of international community development and felt compelled to learn the skills to better help communities. I knew this was the beginning of my international work.
Since then, I did a short study abroad in Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe. It was a truly meaningful experience that furthered my appreciation for the need of active citizenship and advocacy for equality and democracy. I saw firsthand how some individuals were being marginalized and their needs neglected. It provided me a new perspective on how politics and government influence individual’s lives which is something I am very grateful for. After returning home I realized how many similarities exist among Moldova and the United States. I think that American citizens face some of the same challenges in creating and sustaining a just government as Moldovan citizens. This furthered why I believe that participatory action of citizens is necessary to develop desired change at a macro level.
These two international experiences comprise a major reason I am passionate about social work and interested in community organizing and development. What makes me the most excited is that my graduate coursework has provided with with a framework to walk into a new community and work effectively with them. I am confident that I have learned new tools and skills during my MSW curriculum that I did not have during my prior two international experiences. I am sure that I still have so much to learn though! This journey is sure to be life changing for me.