As I wrap up my final days with Westchester Children’s Association, I could not be more grateful to have interned here. I remember my first day walking into the office and sitting in the conference room with Allison and Josh, nervous yet excited to finally get a taste of what macro-level, social work is like. Being in meetings with community leaders and agencies was definitely nerve-wracking because I was unsure of how I could interject and share my thoughts while now learning. Josh gave me a piece of advice in the very beginning sharing that it takes a while to understand but I’ll get it along the way. He said I should feel free to share any thoughts you may have around certain issues. I realize that should always be the mentality to have, and I need to be gracious with myself in these spaces because policy and the community need change in the blink of an eye. One of the many things that I am taking away for certain is the importance of self-nourishment and setting boundaries in the workspace, with clients, and even in my personal life.
As an intern, I tend to be very quiet and observant of the environment and everything that goes on around me. One of the goals that I had set for myself was to be more vocal and outspoken in macro settings. Having to facilitate Project 2020 – now Project engage – workgroups helped me to do just that. Between my first facilitation with Good For Girls until the last Project Engage session, I noticed that I became more relaxed and confident in my ability to teach content and to play a significant role in giving them the tips and tools of using their voice in our society. Being a social worker in a macro space – especially during a pandemic – has reinforced the importance of sitting at the table with decision-makers now more than ever. We need to reveal the issues that have been hidden for years and critically think about how we can heal or restore the well-being of ourselves and those around us. Part of this work involves understanding and unlearning whiteness, racism, and all of the systemic oppression more aware of my positionality and privilege as a graduate student, and soon-to-be practitioner. My curiosity, leadership, and ability to challenge injustices around me cannot stop once I am in the field.
Thank you Josh, Allison, and the entire WCA staff for allowing me to learn and continue to grow as a social worker!
Project Engage these last few weeks was nothing less than incredible. Project Engage is an initiative built off of our former Project 2020, which discussed civic engagement and voting during the election season. Prior to the beginning of our very first session, one of the teachers mentioned that students were feeling frustrated about not having much say in government because of their age, not knowing how to engage, and not feeling like their voice would have an impact. As a social worker-in-training in the macro field, I was actively thinking of ways to implement some form of the strengths-based approach and create spaces for students to feel empowered and motivated to make a difference. Over the last several weeks, I was intrigued to hear and discuss the issues that students were most passionate about including COVID-19 reopening protocols, climate change, student debt, immigration policies and so many more. Students learned how to create advocacy plans and collectively modeled the theory of change.
One of the highlights of my time working in Project Engage has been the last two classes where students were able to engage with their peers and local leaders about the importance of being involved in your community. I enjoyed the energy that Assemblyman Abinanti and Senator Harkham brought to the discussion- questioning students about what changes they want and need within their communities highlighting the importance of being involved in decisions that involve those around us. I was extremely happy to be a part of this initiative for the second semester in a row!
Join us on June 3rd at our 2021 Spring Benefit. RSVP at wca4kids.org/benefit2021