From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

There’s No Place Else I’d Rather Be

by Aleesa Ribbens

Termination. It is a process that has been talked about often throughout the course of my social work education. It is an important method of smoothly and successfully bringing your work with a client to an end. Although it is a term that I am familiar with, it was not until this past week that I had to put it into practice.

Last Friday marked the last day of my internship at Cabrini Green Legal Aid. The weeks leading up to it were occupied with making sure my clients knew that I was leaving and that they were being transferred to another social worker upon my departure. It was also a time for me to tie up the loose ends on various projects I had been working on. I knew going into this semester that termination was important when it comes to working with clients, yet I am starting to realize that it is also important for the social worker; these past few weeks have also been filled with wrapping up my course work, reflecting on these past four months, saying goodbye to the friends I have made, and preparing to go home and graduate.

Recently I was asked whether or not it has been challenging for me to be away from my home college the last semester of my senior year. I will admit that when I first decided to participate in the Chicago Semester, it was challenging for me to transition out of Hope a semester earlier than I had anticipated. But as I look back, this semester has been full of new adventures and an immense amount of growth both personally and professionally.

Each week, I spent thirty-six hours interning at Cabrini Green Legal Aid. In addition to my internship, I took two classes at the Chicago Semester office downtown. It was the perfect transition from the classroom into the working world. Through my placement, I slowly stepped into the “real world” by taking on new responsibilities and working toward becoming a professional social worker. I was able to shadow experienced social workers as they carried out their work, plan and implement a series of Life Skills classes, and eventually reached a point where I was able to take on cases of my own. As I slowly eased into a professional role, I am tremendously grateful to have had a supervisor to help guide my practice. Through weekly supervision I was able to seek positive and genuine feedback on the work that I was doing, ask for help on projects that I was in charge of, and was pushed to become more confident in who I am as a social worker.
In addition to gaining confidence and competence in a professional setting, I am grateful for the richly diverse context the city of Chicago provided to both work and live in. As a self-proclaimed foodie wannabe, having one of the nations largest culinary playgrounds at my fingertips was pure bliss. Some of my favorite restaurants were The Bongo Room, DMK Burger Bar, and Joy Yee Noodle.

Weekly arts event outings provided a break from the working world and allowed students to relax with each other and take in well-known performances such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, and the Shakespeare Theatre at an affordable price. In addition to the food and the arts, I will miss little things like riding the Red Line to class, late night trips to Yogurtland for frozen yogurt, and mid-evening walks through Lincoln Park.

Next month will bring on a slew of life changes for me. I am moving back to Holland, Michigan and will be graduating from Hope College. I will have three short weeks to sift through my belongings, pack up my stuff, and move to Fairfax, Virginia where I have accepted a yearlong internship working at a respite care facility for children with special needs. As I terminate this period of my life, I look back at this semester and incredible opportunities the Chicago Semester has presented me with. While this might have been one of the most challenging semesters of my life, it has also been one of the greatest. I have developed a great appreciation and love for the city of Chicago and hope to move back someday soon. There’s no place else I’d rather be.