Social Work Majors Travel to Chicago

– Tori Johnston (Chicago, IL)

On Wednesday, November 4th a group of Social Work majors left for a two day trip to Chicago.  Professors Alesia Yakos-Brown and Tess Homier-Sullivan lead the group of undergraduates to the windy city.  The trip consisted of visiting different agencies within the social work community as well as touring some of the different sights.

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The first stop of the trip took place at Refugee One.  That experience allowed for the students to learn about the struggles happening in other countries.  Senior social work major Lindsay Kasmer actually did her summer internship at Refugee One.  She said that her favorite part of the Chicago trip was returning there.  Lindsay was able to work in a mental health capacity while she interned at Refugee One.  Lindsay said “it felt like coming home.  I’ve missed my agency so much, the clients I worked with, and the employees who helped me along the way.  It was hard to leave them for a second time”.

The second stop on the trip was the Center on Halsted, a safe place for the LGBTQ youth community in Chicago.  It is a place that provides support both mentally and physically.  The Center on Halsted is open not only to just members of the LGBTQ community but also the general public.  They offer a safe place for adolescence who need help or a place to stay and they provide counseling for those who need it.  Students on the trip found the Center on Halsted to be very beneficial and a great learning experience.

The final agency that was visited on the Chicago trip was Featherfist.  Featherfist’s mission is to eliminate homelessness and give power and purpose to the members of the homeless community.  They assist them in their advancement toward self-sufficiency and self-determination.  Case managers and other employees of Featherfist work together to travel through South Chicago and find anyone homeless.  Instantly they offer them a card and place to stay or a hot meal depending on what they need.  Featherfist does not force anyone to come down to the center, instead they give support and let the homeless know that they are there when they need them.  When asked majority of the social work majors said that this was the most memorable agency because of the amazing employees there, and how inspirational their work is.

When professor Alesia Yakos-Brown was asked why she thought the trip was beneficial to students at DC, she offered

The trip is a wonderful opportunity to expose students to the multiculturalism of an urban area, learning about social problems and social services on a much larger scale to complement the setting of Defiance College in rural northwest Ohio.  Students visit agencies, meet professionals, and learn about the needs of clientele.  As a result students come away from the experience with a new awareness and understanding of urban social work practice beyond what the textbook could provide.  In addition students enjoy getting to know one another and their social work faculty outside the classroom.

For some students going to Chicago was returning to something that they are comfortable with, for others it was a whole new experience.  Some reported this as being the first time that they ever road on a train or had Chicago deep dish pizza.  The students visited the bean at Millennium Park and also had a blast on Michigan Avenue, according to the professors.  Overall, the Chicago trip was considered to be a very educational and memorable experience.



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