From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jane Addams Hull House visit by Jeni Kanis and Grace Snyder

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.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Finding my Role in Chicago by Jeni Kanis

Hello, my name is Jeni Kanis and I am a Social Work and theatre major interning in Chicago this semester. Now that I have been here about a month, I would like to share with you about my experiences and what I am learning. 

Ever since I got here, I have been trying to figure out my role. That seems like a natural struggle when one moves to a new place or finds herself in a new situation. I have found that relationships, situations and places seem to help define roles for me.

One of my major roles this semester is that of being an intern at the Institute of Therapy through the Arts (ITA). This is an organization that provides art, drama, music, and dance/movement therapy; I enjoy being a part of the work because it connects social work and theatre. My tasks range from administrative projects to aiding therapists in sessions; through this variety of experiences I have begun to see and appreciate that there are many aspects to this organization. One of my favorite things about this internship site is that ITA works with so many populations, so I get to see school age children one day and the next I see elderly clients.
Though, there is much to love about this role, it can be difficult to see the obstacles and struggles of clients. Whether they struggle with mobility, income level, behaviors, or something else, I empathize with the struggles and hope that they can use some of the things that the creative arts therapies might help them discover. Sometimes I have gotten to see these clients, some of whom struggle the most, succeed which has been a joy that reminds me of the hope and success that can come from a helping relationship.

I have been talking about roles, and finding my roles here in Chicago. I have loved the process of finding my roles in the last month, but sometimes I feel lost in the search. One of the things that has helped me remember what a student like me might be doing in a city like Chicago has been the scenery on my daily walk. When I walk along the lake shore, I find a never ending horizon of water stretches on my right. It calls to mind the hope I have for right relationships and renewal. On the other side, the city skyline looms large, and I am reminded of daily existence, wrapped in  concerns, joys, hardships, and celebrations of the here and now. For a moment on my walks, I am in between, and I find myself thinking maybe part of my role is to connect the two.