The following article was written by Timothy Frank
Four students and Assistant Professor Shannon Hughes of CSU’s School of Social Work recently visited rural villages in central India in collaboration with Westminster College in Utah.
“The goal for the students was to understand what it means to be a part of a quickly transforming society with a long history that has created an incredibly complicated and nuanced system of family and social ties and standards of equality,” says Hughes. “We want to understand and open ourselves up to appreciating our similarities and differences as individuals, families, communities and cultures.”
Last summer the students facilitated a girls’ science camp in the town of Wai, where they provided digital cameras and asked participating girls to document things in their environment that made them happy and unhappy.
For social work junior Frannie Sovcik, the most memorable part of her trip was working with the science camp girls.
“Every afternoon we would meet at the library and work with the girls to create individual projects,” Sovcik says. “Despite the language barrier, we were able to work together to bring each of their ideas to life through photos of their environment. I feel very lucky to have had this opportunity.”
Another benefit to the trip was students’ own personal growth from having their assumptions about Indian life challenged. Social work junior Kenzie Bohm revealed her doubts about what India would be like.
“To my surprise, I found nothing but beauty and uniqueness that is difficult to describe in words,” she recalls. “The Indian culture has a way of making you feel right at home. Everyone I met welcomed me in like I was a member of the family.”
In summer 2015, social work students will again have the opportunity to match their interests with Indian social work master’s students and work alongside them on field placement projects in rural villages and urban slums. Literacy and education, poverty, water and sanitation, child welfare, women’s empowerment, sustainable community development and a variety of other topics will be engaging students.
Next summer will be Hughes’ fourth year taking students to India. For more information on Partners in Progress: Social work In India visit this website.