Friday, September 30, 2011

What a week!

Thank gaawd it's Friday!?

Student association elections were Monday and I still can't believe it, I was elected vice president (incoming president). What this means is that for the next six or seven months, I'm the vice president of the MSW student association and then transition into the role of president. The turnout of students was more than they had ever seen before so I must say thanks to all my supportive new friends/classmates.  I really feel like we can use this opportunity to organize some great events. I'd like to bring in some guest speakers, organize community outreach initiatives and get the students from our faculty involved in events that will be social, help develop professional skills and bring awareness to new social work issues.

So this begins my work for the weekend, researching guest speakers and trying to figure out what I can do to make things happen.

Practice with individuals was something else. I of course volunteered in the wake of the sound of crickets when our professor asked for a volunteer to sit down and do a counselling session with her in front of the class. It was a nice experience and I felt a lot of "love" and support from those who looked on to experience an intimate conversation between a middle aged counselling instructor and myself. She asked what I'd like to talk about, what kind of troubles I was having and what came to mind was a presentation I had made with two classmates earlier in the week. We were three white guys presenting to a VERY diverse class on the subject of racism. Yes, three white guys sharing the experience of immigrant women and black men being oppressed and feeling victimized by social situations and blatant racism that marginalized them. So, my comment in our mini therapy was "I feel like a faker, like I don't really understand the issues that women or any minorities experience. I worry that they look at me as someone who has no right to talk about the issues that they own, that they live."

She asked me where I thought this was coming and after only a few minutes we explored that this was a fear, that I want to be a great social  worker and competent when it comes to diversity but that I fear I will be seen culturally incompetent or even as the very embodiment of everything that has served to oppress and marginalize them.

Only problem with this mini counselling session is yes, we exposed the issue but never got anywhere with it. Thankfully (and bravely I must say) about three or four other students came up to me to tell me that they felt very much the same way as me and had the same worries. We talked for some time and have established a really nice rapport, a group of people I know I can count on. :)

Also to be noted, the rush to finish my literature review on yoga as a modality of therapeutic care is on! So, yes the weekend is here. Class is over but my duties are many.

Maybe I could sneak in a bike ride today though...


  1. Holy busy weekend. Make sure you get another bike ride in for some self care, mister! And congrats on being VP! I selfishly root for the incredibly-high-in-demand Stephen Lewis as a speaker on behalf of SLF. Aside from being a personal hero, he's a sensational speaker that just oozes inspiration and motivation. (Yes, oozes).

    As for class, I think it was incredibly brave of you to be the observational "guinea pig" and share something that had such depth to it. And I'm so glad you felt supported, because you're definitely not alone in your concern.

    But what usually overrides my reservations (aside from good ol' fashioned stubborness) is my personal belief that the role as a Social Worker isn't to compare notes on similar stories. I can't help but think that a good chunk of efficacy is the empathy, passion and desire to help someone and make a difference in their lives. Whether personal circumstances are relatable or not almost doesn't matter to me because the spirit of helping is something that I think people will always pick up on. We may not share their past experiences, but they're asking us to share their current experiences and guide them towards future ones. And I think that's the relatable compassion that matters most for me.

    end of soapbox.

  2. Not a soapbox at all! Your words are appreciated so very much. :)

    Your vote for guest speaker is duly noted. Would you be willing to volunteer!? We may need help with the ooze.

  3. Haha... I don't mind being honorary ooze-assister.

    I have been volunteering for the Stephen Lewis Foundation for the past few years, but I've never actually met him - just transcribed some of his amazing speeches. I don't think I'd have any pull but his daughter Ilana would be phenomenal, too and potentially more obtainable. At the very least I can hook you up with the appropriate contact.