From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

From the Perspective of Chicago Semester Social Work Students

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Great Things Never Come From Comfort Zone

by Ann Hersey

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving with friends and family! Wow. It is my final week in Chicago. It may be a cliché, but time really does fly when you’re having fun. It seems like just a couple weeks ago I was riding in the car with my family with the skyline in the distance and my stomach in knots about what the coming semester in the city would bring. Now I have some new friends, learned how to use the CTA bus and train system, and gained professional competence. I adjusted to the city far better than I thought and I’m not sure that I am ready to leave.

I have learned and grown a lot this past semester. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone and am grateful for it. I once read some good advice: “Great things never come from comfort zones.” This proved true for me in Chicago. I am a fairly shy individual unless you know me well and change makes me nervous. I was challenged to lead groups and speak in Spanish among other things that were hard for me. Although the kids didn’t always listen and I didn’t always say the right word, I gained experience and realized that I do have the skills it takes. I encourage you to take the chance on something new, because you never know what might happen.

I feel honored to have been able to work at such a well-established and respected agency as Erie Neighborhood House. Words cannot express how wonderful my experience has been. The staff is so passionate and dedicated to the community they serve. The kids have touched me in many different ways. Their spirit and resiliency amazes me and I am truly going to miss seeing them everyday.

I am also going to miss city life. I love that there is always something to do - a play to see, an art gallery to visit, a festival to attend, a neighborhood to explore, or a new restaurant to try. I will also miss the rich cultural diversity in Chicago. I am incredibly blessed to have had an opportunity to live and work in this beautiful city. I will be back someday without a doubt. Until next time, Chicago!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Take Initiative. The Time is Now!

by Allison Brower

With only three weeks left of this semester I can’t help but think back on all that has happened here in Chicago. My time here has been exactly what the Chicago Semester mission statement says, “Providing students an opportunity to live, learn, and work in Chicago while challenging them to integrate their personal, professional and public lives.” Whether through seminar, supervision at my internship, practicum class or personally I have been able to reflect on where I am in life now and where I want to be. I have realized that in all areas of my life it is time to take initiative and ownership for my future.

My internship at Youth Organizations Umbrella has allowed for many opportunities for me to learn the importance of being proactive. As an intern I was worried about not having enough things to fill my day or feeling like I was actually part of the team. However, I was very wrong. I am more than pleased with the freedom given to me to share and implement my ideas. At the same time, this was not something that was explicitly told to me. I was the one who needed to ask, to share, and then take action. I think this is something that is extremely important not only in an internship, but also in the work place. This learning at my internship has prompted me to take initiative in other areas as well.

This being my last semester of college I have been faced many times with the question, "What's next?" It has not been the easiest to answer because I actually do not know. Despite this, I feel confident that this semester off-campus will make an impact on my marketability. More importantly, I have been able to add my internship to my resume. Through various guest speakers at Chicago Semester I have learned that this experience is such an asset to my future work life. I now have a network of people in Chicago who are resources and references for the rest of my life. Going forward I am excited to use the advice and skills that I have gained while here in Chicago.

While I am thankful for my internship this semester it has meant more to me than just a resume builder. There has been intentional space to reflect on my internship, future vocation, and how my personal values fit into those areas. Currently, I may not have a job, but that does not mean I am without a calling from God. This semester I have discovered more about how I should love people, especially those that are different from me. There will never be a time where I will have it figured out, but in everything I want my life to reflect the grace and love that God has shown to me. I will always be thankful for the opportunities, challenges, and memories made this semester in Chicago. I am looking forward to my future and excited to continue to live out my purpose for the Lord.