As an intern right now in a rural area in California, I am learning a lot about cultural differences, cultural sensitivity, and the best way to approach those you work with in order to get the best result.
Working in a school setting has many ups and downs.
The ups include:great schedule, its from about 7:45-3 . So not having to get up too early has been nice, and not being at the school too late is great, except for the few days meetings run late. Seeing all the children’s smiling faces, and to see how happy they are to be there on a Monday is adorable, and really help my handling of it being a Monday at 7:45 with only one cup of coffee.
The downs include: not having enough time in the day to really spend a lot of time with those students who need the individualized help, and those who require more time than they should are frustrating because there is only so much I can do.
So the timing of school is great, but also sets severe limitations.
I’m from a quaint little college town in Maine, and not much diversity existed to be honest. We seemed to not have any hispanic families, or none that I noticed. We were very much in the picturesque little American town. It’s been an adjustment, but not too big of one, because I was raised to understand there are many types of people in the world, and until they do harm to you, you treat them as your equal, and even then, you forgive them and move on as long as the harm was minimal.
So what do you do when the differences you face create a barrier on how you understand how to handle the situation at hand? You learn to listen, to understand, and to make sure the person is heard.Their problems are now your problems, whether you like it or not, you are there to help. As a Social Worker, you help in whatever way you can, no matter how little or big a result you get.
The language barrier I face (as I speak minimal, and I mean very minimal Spanish), makes it so I depend on others in the school to talk to families for me if I can not do so myself. Though I try to when I can, they are at least recognizing I would like to help them and their child succeed in life, and that gets you much farther than not trying at all.
Over all, we in the social services field are constantly trying our best, and when we see defeat, we try to find other resources that can change the result that has shown its ugly face. Many time it takes multiple attempts to get the result we want, which many find discouraging, as do I. Although, I try to remember the solution is out there, you just have to find it.
Many people ask me “why do you want to do this?” and I usually respond with “I like to help people”. And even though that answer doesn’t say much, I can show you better than I can tell you.