-Divya Iyer, I Year B.S.W
We find ourselves at the very end of December, a month that signifies different things to different people. There’s Christmas and Hanukkah and probably other festivals that I don’t know much about. Regardless of one’s faith and way of celebrating, however, December marks the end of a year and hints at the beginning of a new one. It’s definitely a relevant month for everyone, regardless of personal priorities.
This article has many intentions, but my core reason for writing it is to give people a glimpse into what it really means to be a social work student, what we study, what we learn, what we experience, and why I find all this so satisfying. Another reason for my writing this article is purely self-indulgent and reflective. I want to examine how deeply these experiences and the exposure I have gotten have helped me develop as a person, and maybe to a large extent, even shaped my whole perception of 2017.
Social work, as a field, is very dynamic. What it requires from us, in the real world, is subject to change based on the circumstances. Given this, our course aims to give us adequate exposure to handle things. Our theoretical classes either have to do with social work as a profession and what we can do within it, or heavily borrows off key points from other disciplines which we can use on the field. Our field work sessions, which take place once a week, focus more on the practical aspect of social work and help us develop skills that we can use on the field.
This semester, we were fortunate enough to be able to attend various programmes such as a seminar for World Aids Day (December 1st ), UNICEF’s release of their official report in Chennai and a speech by Australian Paralympics gold medallist Curtis McGrath, amongst other events, for World Disability Day (30th November). As a social work student, I’ve gotten to see the success of these events as an outsider would, while at the same time recognizing and understanding the effort from our department that goes into co-ordination and making such events possible.
The event that took place on World Aids Day was intended for the NSS and YRC volunteers, but as it was relevant to what we were doing at college, our class was fortunate enough to be a part of it. We had speakers who spoke about HIV/AIDS without any shame or embarrassment, and the whole atmosphere was a positive one; free of stigma. They were able to spread awareness to us in a way that made us empathize, and made us understand more about the issue, and about what it would be like to live with HIV.
UNICEF’s official release of their annual report for Chennai happened in our college, and we were privileged enough to be there for it. The topic of this year was “Children in a Digital World,” and it concerned itself with how the internet was something that had immense potential to either harm or help children, and looked at how children can be protected from predators online, or what steps should be taken to ensure their safety.
Our department club, Unnathi, conducted various interyear intradepartmental activities to do with social issues. Some events that took place were a newspaper collage competition, face painting competition, photography competition, recycling competition and a creative writing competition. These events mostly had themes pertaining to gender, and they gave us opportunities to participate in enjoyable and interesting small-scale activities that are relevant to the world today, as it is.
Besides all of these co-ordinated and scheduled events, there are multiple things that happen as a part of the course, as naturally as breathing. I remember I was walking through the OAT during break once when I saw a group of second year social work students hanging posters on human rights, to celebrate and draw attention to how 10th December is Human Rights Day.
“Why right now, though?” I’d asked, feeling somewhat out of the loop.
They’d seemed perplexed by the redundancy of my question. “Why not?”
Being a part of this department is a very enlightening experience. Seeing people come together and discuss social change with every intent of actually making these changes happen is very inspiring. It reminds me that no matter how many things go wrong, there are also good initiatives and good people who are making things right. It gives me hope for the future, and faith in myself and all of us. There is so much more I would like to say, but I have no words. It’s such a good feeling, to belong here.