Social Work Day at the United Nations attracts those around the world who are working to make a difference. This year, 17 Seton Hall University undergraduate and graduate social work students attended the 34th annual event, which was held last month at the United Nations headquarters where over 500 participants gathered.
Over the years, social work students, practitioners and educators have convened at the United Nations to learn more about the UN's innovative projects and issues related to social work's role in the international arena. This year, the theme Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability encouraged students to think globally and act locally about issues of sustainability, community and social action.
"It was truly an eye-opening experience," says Miles Callender, a Seton Hall Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) candidate. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to get to learn about social work on a different level." He went on to speak about how the presentation on land-mind warfare resonated with him the most, saying that he never realized the entire scope of issues for which social workers could advocate.
The day began with a welcome by His Excellency the Honorable Ambassador Masud Bin Momen, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations. This was followed by a lecture by John Ennis, Chief of Information and Outreach in the UN's Office of Disarmament Affairs. A former congressional aide, Ennis currently assists the Department for Peacekeeping Operations on anti‐personnel landmine issues. Next on the agenda was Terri Klemm, associate professor and BSW program director at Centenary University. Klemm was named the National Association of Social Workers (NJ Chapter)'s Social Worker of the Year in 2016 and helped to establish Centenary's BSW program more than a decade ago.
Elizabeth Gustafson spoke next at the event. A Master of Social Work (MSW) student at the University of Connecticut, Gustafson currently works for the Asylum Hill Welcoming Committee in Hartford, Connecticut, working with immigrants and refugees. Her work has included outreach and advocacy, and facilitating and strengthening partnerships with community organizations.
Students were inspired by Gustafson's participation in the event, especially Kathy Clermont, a first year graduate social work student at Seton Hall. She stated, "It was great to see a fellow MSW student on the panel talking about her journey and future plans for her career. She was an inspiration to me and other MSW students who would one day want to be part of Social Work Day at the United Nations."
Robert Borrero spoke next at the event as a member of the NGO Committee on the Rights of Indigenous People. He is an artist, historian, musician and writer with a particular expertise in Caribbean and other Indigenous Peoples issues. He has shared his expertise with such organizations as PBS, BBC, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian and the Institute for American Indian Studies.
Annamaria Campanini wrapped up the presentations for the day. She is the president of the International Association of Schools of Social Work and has authored many publications in several languages, including English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. She serves as an editorial board member of several international social work journals.
The enthusiasm and esteem of the different speakers at the event impressed Alvin Nelson, a Seton Hall MSW candidate. "It opened my eyes and inspired me to think on a larger scale when it comes to social work," said Nelson.
Seton Hall associate professor Widian Nicola, DSW, organized the trip. She said, "This event gave our students the opportunity to engage in domestic and global conversations about pressing and relevant social work issues. Our BSW and MSW students arrived with open minds and left the event with inspired hearts. All the students were stellar representatives of the University and the social work profession. We hope to continue to participate in the years to come."
Categories: Nation and World