30 January, 2015

Social Work All Inclusive

Last week the School of Social Work welcomed a large group of youth workers from around Europe to exchange and discuss good practices, projects and programmes on inclusion. It was senior lecturer Hans Donders from the Cultural Social Work programme who had invited a variety of European partners in order to explore the universal components that turn projects in this field into successes.
All over Europe (youth) organisations plan and implement different projects to help underprivileged groups of youngsters to find their place in society. Some prove to be successful, some fail. Curious to find out the secret behind successful projects on inclusion or combating exclusion, Hans wrote a project application for a European conference of a week to be held in Rotterdam in order to discuss this issue face to face. The common goal was to identify a number of effective tools and methodologies to enhance youth work practices and subsequently share these in the respective organisations and countries. With the results and conclusions from the Rotterdam conference, new activities are to be planned and implemented in the next few months as try-outs. The outcome of the project as a whole will take the shape of a manifest (a.o.) and will become available towards the summer of 2015.
What made the conference special, was the involvement of all year 2 students of the Cultural Social Work programme. They were either hosts, presenters or facilitators. Their active involvement and enthusiasm in working with the international visitors contributed largely towards the success of the conference.
For the students, the conference was an excellent opportunity to practise their intercultural skills and English language skills. All students had been working steadily towards this special week: on the one hand in a minor programme called Art in Social Action, on the other hand via all kinds of project activities. For these students, their international experience isn't over yet ! For within a week's time they'll be leaving for Palermo for the annual year 2 study visit. In that sense, the year 2 programme has managed successfully to gradually take students out of their comfort zones: first within the safe environment of the school, next outside their own country, but always under the supervision of their lecturers.

Speaking to one or two students today, it became crystal clear that the conference had had a large impact on them and had definitely made them eager for more international steps and experiences.
So is it mission completed ? Yes, definitely: the result is that students have been able to get hands on experience in what it means to collaborate internationally on youth issues, thereby enhancing their international views on the social work profession. We'll know more about the longer terms effects within a few months, when students choose their placements for year 3 or possibly within a year, when students can choose to attend a minor programme abroad.
Meanwhile the international partnership will steadily work towards the final output.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This blog post reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained herein.