In June, CIPUSA's Affiliate Office, Colleagues International, welcomed Spanish social worker Maria Foguet Gomis to Kalamazoo, Michigan! Below is a little background information on Maria and her experience in the U.S. so far...
Hometown: Reus, Catalunia, Spain
Years practicing social work: nine
Placement in Kalamazoo: Bilingual and Bicultural Outreach, Family and Children’s Services
Professional focus at home: Chronic psychiatric care of adult patients
Focus in Kalamazoo: Bilingual and bicultural outreach – I am observing the care and support given to Latin American children and their families who are dealing with school challenges, immigration issues and cultural adaptation problems.
Likes in my placement: I like that what I am observing here is connected to my work back home but it is also really different. I have never worked with children in Spain. I am from a country where bilingual and bicultural issues are very important and it is good to see that we are not the only ones.
Ideas to take back to my practice in Spain: The group work that we are doing here is very complete. I can’t use all of the elements back home but much of it is relevant to my practice. Also, there are little things that we do differently that are easy to change but we don’t know about them. For example, in a group session in a social club yesterday, patients expressed their opinions and made decisions together rather than the staff deciding, as is the case at home.
Likes in Kalamazoo: The population size is similar to my city but the activities are really different. My impression is that in the winter you can’t do anything outside so in the summer you do as much as possible: free outdoor concerts, art events, etc. The people are kind and friendly and I feel comfortable here.
Living with host families: The most important thing about all of my host families thus far is that they make me feel at home and find fun activities for me to do to learn about the area.
Advice for social workers coming through CIPUSA: Be open-minded because it is very different from Europe here. Relax and enjoy your moment and try to absorb all you can.
1. Maria pictured with Laetitia Ndiaye from Senegal who is an international student at Kalamazoo College and is currently interning at Colleagues International.
2. Enjoying dinner with her host families.
3. At a goodbye party with two visiting delegations:
a Russian Environmental Educators Program (Open World) and a Gabonese Youth Development Program IVLP).
Posted by Lindsey Walsh on
July 13, 2016 at 4:17 PM