This past Sunday we (Jeni who you heard from earlier this week and Grace who you will hear from next week) toured the Jane Addams Hull House for our practicum class.
It was really inspirational to be at such an important historic site for the field of social work. The Hull House was started by Jane Addams and others and offered services to immigrants for over seventy years. We were amazed by the breadth of services that were offered to immigrants, they had access to a kiln for pottery, child care, health services, and English classes. They even had the opportunity to teach and share their own skills and crafts.
We were excited about the opportunity to learn about who Jane Addams was and glimpse a bit of her life. We learned about the people who surrounded her and worked with her such as Ellen Gates Star and Florence Kelly. All of these strong women seemed to have a solid understanding of the needs of immigrants and worked endlessly to meet those needs.
One object in the house that exemplified this for us was Jane’s “partner desk.” Jane wanted her desk to be symmetrical so that she and whoever she met with were seeing eye-to-eye and were equally positioned. This helped her to place herself in an empathetic position to her clients, which is something we still try to do as social workers today.
This experience encouraged us to continue to uphold Jane Addams’ values and vision while we are here in Chicago and in the future.