In spring 2014, the School of Social Work is offering study abroad programs to Sweden and Israel and hosting students from Russia
by Jordan Chapman
Sometimes the best way to gain perspective is to take a step outside and look back in. Julie Altman, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Social Work, used Neil Armstrong standing on the moon as a prime example.
As Mr. Armstrong said after he had returned from the moon: “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”
Dr. Altman hopes her students gain a similar outside viewpoint—on social work policy and practice—when she takes a group of 15 Adelphi scholars to Sweden March 15–March 25, 2014 to study international social work structures and how they differ from those in the United States.
“My own passion for study abroad came . . . in the 1970s when I was an AFS [American field] student,” Dr. Altman said, referring to a high school study abroad program (now known as AFS-USA) that took her to Malaysia in 1976. Ten years after that she visited Finland as a practicing social worker with the Council of International Programs.
“These connections and experiences helped me to see that you don’t really know yourself—you don’t really know your country—until you’ve stepped outside…and looked back,” she said. “You need that distance to see clearly.”
Dr. Altman will be partnering with Maud E. Edgren-Schori, senior lecturer at Stockholm University in Sweden, during the 10-day visit. The students will attend lectures given by Stockholm University faculty as well as by Dr. Altman, who, on March 20, will give a presentation to students from Adelphi and other universities on the topic of “U.S. Welfare Policy—Children and Families.”
“[Ms. Edgren-Schori]’s also organizing four field visits where students will go to agencies and really see on the ground what the practice looks like there,” Dr. Altman said, adding this is something she’s excited for students to see.
“Sweden is seen as nirvana for social workers in terms of social policy and a lot of social work practice,” she said. She recalled a previous Adelphi study abroad trip into Sweden when the students found it hard to believe the well-kept buildings they saw served as public housing.
Another group of M.S.W. students will travel to Israel from May 18–May 30, 2014 with Roni Berger, Ph.D., and Marilyn Paul, Ph.D., both professors in the School, to study with experts who help those who encounter trauma. The deadline to apply is March 14.
Russian Scholars Visit Adelphi
Adelphi students aren’t the only ones to temporarily jettison themselves out of their home countries in hopes of discovering some outside perspective.
Siberian State Industrial University students Aynura Nuriyeva and Maria Nikolaeva can currently be found on campus until mid-March studying and researching for their fifth year of their social work specialists program, the equivalent of Adelphi’s master of social work degree.
While here they’ll get to visit social work agencies in the Greater New York area and attend some classes on campus while conducting research in the Swirbul Library. Dr. Altman noted that the research is important because it gives them access to U.S. literature, which is limited in Siberia.
Though their visit here wasn’t planned to coincide with Social Work Month in March, Lobby Day on March 4 or Social Action Day on March 10, the timing is near perfect. As they continue their studies and attend events, Dr. Altman is confident Ms. Nuriyeva and Ms. Nikolaeva, along with Adelphi’s social work students, will gain insight from one another on the very different social work environments they practice in.
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