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How to do International Social Work

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How to do International Social Work - Page Text Content

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FC: How to do International Social Work

1: A Learning Inquiry for SOWK 399 Organizations at the University of Calgary Made by: Natalie Gravel Produced for: Linda Fehr

3: Page Index Main Question..............................................5 Sub Questions..............................................6 Emergent Questions......................................7 Introduction................................................8 What is International Social Work..................... 9 Determining if international social work is right for you.........................................................10 Where to start............................................11 Step-By-Step: A Brief Overview.......................12 NGOabroad................................................13 Types of Organizations.............................14,15 Challenges to working internationally................16 Some things which may be useful.....................17 A Brief Word on International Practice...........18,19 Analysis....................................................20 Reference list............................................21 International Code of Ethics.......................22-29

5: Main Question: How can a social worker get involved in international social work, and are there specific steps to follow to get involved?

6: Sub Questions: What is international social work? What are some agencies/organizations that do international social work? What are some barriers that international social workers face and how can they be overcome? What are the steps that need to be taken to do international social work? Is there an international social work code of ethics, code for practice?

7: Emergent Questions: How can I determine if international social work is right for me? What, if any, are the different types of organizations that do international work?

8: Introduction International social work is an area of social work that interests me very much; however I had no idea where to even begin. This book intends to provide a brief overview of how to get an international social work job. I am interested in this area of social work because I have family which live all over the world. I believe that with a little determination and perseverance anything can be done. It sounds cliché, but I want to make the world a better place, one person at a time. I do not know if I can do this better here at home in Canada or abroad, and I think that with this research I will find out if international social work is right for me.

9: What is international social work? The definition of social work as per the international federation of social work is: "The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work" (2000). International social work is social work that is not in your own backyard. It is working abroad. However the federation also notes that the definition is dynamic and evolving and therefore no definition should be regarded as complete.

10: Determining if international social work is right for you According to Ann Glusker (1992) of the University of Pennsylvania wanting to work abroad and being ready to work abroad are not the same thing. There are a series of questions that she outlines that a person can ask themselves to help determine their readiness for international employment. The questions are: Why am I interested in international social work? Am I interested in effecting change on a macro/global level? Am I interested in working directly with clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds? Am I interested in the personal and professional development which result from the experience of living abroad, whatever the employment situation? Does my commitment to an international career include being based abroad, or would I prefer to be based in my home country? What are my general and specific practice interests? What skills do I have to offer in an international setting? What international/intercultural experience do I have? What are my issues/preferences concerning lifestyle and adjusting to new settings? Would I feel comfortable with the living conditions in a developing country or do I need a more Westernized lifestyle? What is my geographic preference? Is it global in scope? Developed or developing country? What is my "dream job"?

11: Where to start The biggest question that most people have when they decide that they would like to do international work is "where do I begin" and "how". There is no single correct answer, but getting involved does require a lot of research. 1. Identify prospective organizations that you might like to work for. You can go to www.cwse.org for a comprehensive listing of various international organizations and NGO's. Just click on the "International" tab then click on the "Katherine A. Kendall Institute" and then click on "resources". 2. You will then need to contact the organization and inquire about positions abroad. Every organization has a different process for contacting them regarding positions. 3. You will then need a cover letter to go along with your resume. Ann McLaughlin (n.d.) is the director of NGOabroad and suggests that your cover letter be compelling and culturally-sensitive. You do not want to boast in your cover letter like you would when applying for any job in North America. It can be perceived as offensive, be humble. Outline how your skills can help meet their needs, and identify yourself as someone who can help.

12: Step-By-Step A Brief Overview 1. Be informed of current events in the world, particularly the culture/country you wish to to work in. 2. Go through the questions on page 10 by Ann Glusker to determine your readiness. These will also help you when applying for international work in determining where you would like to work and the kind of organization you would like to work for. 3. Identify prospective organizations and get to know the organizations. 4. Contact people within the organization regarding opportunities either paid or unpaid. 5. Create a compelling and humble cover letter. An alternative after step 2 would be to go to www.ngoabroad.com and follow their guide for getting international work. Remember... 1. Most paid positions want people with years of experience, so start off volunteering. 2. Be humble. 3. Persevere, if at first you do not succeed, try try again.

13: NGOabroad NGOabroad is a service that can match your skills to international needs. Founded by Ann McLaughlin can assist with the international job search through career consulting and providing lists of opportunities for paid or voluntary work. Taken directly from their website, "NGOabroad is a unique service that helps you enter or advance in international humanitarian work and provides frugal, customized international volunteer opportunities". The website address is www.ngoabroad.com. I suggest going to their website and checking them out. They can really facilitate your search for international work.

14: Types of Organizations Before going any further, it is important to know the different types of organizations that do international work and what their differences are. International Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) Often employees of these organizations come from the ranks of senior members of national governments. Generally these positions require extensive experience, linguistic abilities, and political contacts. Entry level positions can sometimes require a two year application period. One of the most popular IGOs is the United Nations (Glusker, n.d). International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) unlike IGOs, NGOs are comparatively free of governmental restrictions and as a result they are free to focus on specialized issues. NGOs vary widely in size and organizational structure and they tend to use more volunteer help than the IGOs do. Prior experience living abroad, work experience, language skills are highly preferred by NGOs for people under consideration for professional positions. IT is a good idea to begin a career with an NGO in a volunteer capacity and thereby build up credibility for the more desirable paid positions (Glusker, n.d). Religious Organizations Religious groups and organizations sponsor thousands of human service programs around the world. Generally targeted to the poor, women or to children (Glusker, n.d).

15: United States Government Agencies (applicable to any country) All governments maintain an office, at least, in the capitals of other countries. Many of these offices provide services to Americans visiting abroad, as well as the local populace. As a result there may be many government agencies in which social workers can develop international careers. Obtaining these positions requires the right combination of skills experience and often "being in the right place at the right time" (Glusker, n.d). U.S.-Based Non-Governmental Agencies (applicable to any country) Like internationally based NGOs, these organizations are more likely to have volunteer programs or entry level positions for people without experience. The location of these agencies (being local) makes networking and informational interviewing easy (Glusker, n.d). Country-Based Agencies Organizations that are not international in focus, but are located abroad. The difficulty in applying for employment with these organizations is that without prior connections, most are reluctant to hire persons however qualified they may appear on paper (Glusker, n.d). University-Based Programs Universities in many countries often have active research and service connections to the surrounding communities, especially if they offer social work degrees (Glusker, n.d). Foundation Programs Foundations engaged in international projects of a human service nature employ social workers as consultants, field representatives, and directors for programs that the foundation supports (Glusker, n.d).

16: Challenges to Working Internationally There are going to be many barriers that will get in the way of working internationally, but if you persevere the rewards will be incomparable. Ann McLaughlin (n.d) goes into detail about some of the challenges regarding working internationally: 1. Paid international humanitarian jobs are highly competitive. The majority of the grassroots are run on the commitment of their members and cannot afford to host volunteers. 2. The jobs in the countries whose unemployment is 20-40% rightfully belong to the people in those countries. 3. To get paid international social work you will need: years of domestic experience, knowledge of the culture you will work in, attitude (humility and resourcefulness), determination, and tenacity for the search itself. 4. International experience is a must. Most international job announcements specify how much international work experience is required. 5. Volunteering is a great way to get international experience and is a great way to build a foundation for international work. 6. International work is complex, you cannot just transplant your skills to another culture. You must know that culture and understand the differences and nuances of it. 7. Linguistics. Simply speaking a different language than the people whom you're serving can present challenges.

17: Some things which may be useful 1. Cultural experience. 2. Class experience. If you are going to work in a poor country then experience with poverty, hardship and despair helps you "get-it". 3. Have lots of experience and something Valuable to contribute. If you bring experience and skills with you then you have something to contribute to an organizational and you wont drain it of its resources while you are still learning. 4. Partnering as equals. Your job is to be a mentor, not to come in and take over. Like capacity building, you must recognize the building skills of your team and use them. 5. Study the culture and countries that interest you. If you can ascertain their needs then this will help you when you are in the country as well as when you are approaching people about opportunities working there.

18: A Brief Word on International Practice It should be noted that a lot of the same skills that you use in your own country can also apply for when you do international work. However there are some subtle differences that should be noted. They have been briefly touched on earlier in this book, but this is just going into a little more detail. Whitmore and Wilson (1997) conclude that international work takes a special combination of personal traits and skills to put it into practice. The it that they are referring to is the fine line that separates accompaniment from paternalism (68). Whitmore and Wilson (1997) argue that the role of accompaniment in a social work practice is the combination of a structural and conjunctural analysis with a feminist process combined with traditional social work skills will make for the best international practice (69). Structural social work focuses on helping people make connections between their personal situation and the larger social, political and economic forces which shape it (Whitmore and Wilson, 1997, p.64). They go on to talk about how feminist practice parallels the notion of accompaniment; "principles such as mutuality, sharing, respect for each person's experience...this process...links individual with collective action, their personal with the political" (64). Whitmore and Wilson (1997) then elaborate on what accompanying the process is (71): - collaboration which must be non intrusive - mutual trust and genuine respect are basic to successful collaboration - common analysis of what the problem is

19: Structural & conjunctural analysis | Social Work -theory -practice wisdom -skills/knowledge | Feminist process | Accompaniment | Figure 1 "Accompanying the process" (Whitmore and Wilson, 1997, p. 69) | - Accompaniment implies mutuality and equality in the relationship. it does not mean giving up our own identity, all parties need to give and receive mutually. International social work is developing quickly, and so while the methods proposed can be useful, they should not be regarded as the only way. There are multiple ways to do everything, depending on where you go can also shape whether or not the accompaniment methodology can be used effectively. Many different people propose many solutions to working internationally; I have merely provided a brief overview of one.

20: Analysis Getting involved in international work can prove to be challenging, so perseverance is necessary. It can take years to finally get into what you dream of, but the resultant practice and knowledge will be an asset. I have provided a step-by-step guide on how to get involved, it is general and not very specific as people need to tailor it to what they would like to do. There are many organizations that can help you get involved in international work, just decide which is best for you. This book has provided you with a lot of information, but should not be regarded as the only resource as, there are many and the world of international work is continually evolving.

21: References Council on Social Work Education. (2012). International Social Work Organizations. Council on Social Work Education: KAKI (Katherine A. Kendall Institute). Retrieved on March 12, 2012, from http://www.cswe.org/CentersInitiatives/KAKI/KAKIResources/ IntlSocialWorkOrgs.aspx Glusker, A. (n.d.) a student’s guide to planning a career in international social work. Excerpted from Estes, R.J. (1992). Internationalizing Social Work Education: A Guide to Resources For a New Century. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work). Retrieved from http://www.sp2.upenn.edu/restes/isw/chapter52.html International Federation of Social Workers. Definition of Social Work. Retrieved on March 12, 2012, from http://ifsw.org/resources/definition-of-social-work/ International Federation of Social Workers. (2004). Code of Ethics. Retieved on April 1, 2012 from http://ifsw.org/policies/code-of- ethics/ McLaughlin, A. (n.d.). How to Snag a Job In International Social Work. THE NEW SOCIAL WORKER Online. Retrieved on March 12, 2012, from http://www.socialworker.com/home/Feature_Articles/Professional _Development_&_Advancement/How_to_Snag_a_Job_In_ International_Social_Work/ NGOabroad. Retrieved on March 25, 2012 from www.ngoabroad.com Witmore, E, Wilson, M. (1997). Accompanying the Process: social work and international development practice. International Social Work, 40: 57-74. Retrieved on March 12, 2012 from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/ehost/detail?sid= 26a89903-8100-4ff2-b61c- d9ded3a933e9%40sessionmgr14&vid=1&hid=9&bdata=J nNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=ofs&AN=510534588

22: International Code of Ethics There are many different national codes of ethics and they are particular to the country in which you are working. However the IFSW has an international code of ethics that pertains to anywhere you might be working, internationally. This code is inclusive and thorough; it can also be found on the IFSW website. 1. Preface 2. Definition of Social Work 3. International Conventions 4. Principles 4.1. Human Rights and Human Dignity 4.2. Social Justice 5. Professional Conduct 1. Preface Ethical awareness is a fundamental part of the professional practice of social workers. Their ability and commitment to act ethically is an essential aspect of the quality of the service offered to those who use social work services. The purpose of the work of IASSW and IFSW on ethics is to promote ethical debate and reflection in the member organizations, among the providers of social work in member countries, as well as in the schools of social work and among social work students. Some ethical challenges and problems facing social workers are specific to particular countries; others are common.

23: By staying at the level of general principles, the joint IASSW and IFSW statement aims to encourage social workers across the world to reflect on the challenges and dilemmas that face them and make ethically informed decisions about how to act in each particular case. Some of these problem areas include: The fact that the loyalty of social workers is often in the middle of conflicting interests. The fact that social workers function as both helpers and controllers. The conflicts between the duty of social workers to protect the interests of the people. with whom they work and societal demands for efficiency and utility. The fact that resources in society are limited. This document takes as its starting point the definition of social work adopted separately by the IFSW and IASSW at their respective General Meetings in Montreal, Canada in July 2000 and then agreed jointly in Copenhagen in May 2001 (section 2). This definition stresses principles of human rights and social justice. The next section (3) makes reference to the various declarations and conventions on human rights that are relevant to social work, followed by a statement of general ethical principles under the two broad headings of human rights and dignity and social justice (section 4). The final section introduces some basic guidance on ethical conduct in social work, which it is expected will be elaborated by the ethical guidance and in various codes and guidelines of the member organizations of IFSW and IASSW.

24: 2. Definition of Social Work The social work profession promotes social change, problem solving in human relationships and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. Utilising theories of human behaviour and social systems, social work intervenes at the points where people interact with their environments. Principles of human rights and social justice are fundamental to social work. 3. International Conventions International human rights declarations and conventions form common standards of achievement, and recognise rights that are accepted by the global community. Documents particularly relevant to social work practice and action are: - Universal Declaration of Human Rights - The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights - The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights - The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination - The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women - The Convention on the Rights of the Child - Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO convention 169)

25: 4. Principles 4.1. Human Rights and Human Dignity Social work is based on respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people, and the rights that follow from this. Social workers should uphold and defend each person’s physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual integrity and well-being. This means: 1.Respecting the right to self-determination – Social workers should respect and promote people’s right to make their own choices and decisions, irrespective of their values and life choices, provided this does not threaten the rights and legitimate interests of others. 2.Promoting the right to participation – Social workers should promote the full involvement and participation of people using their services in ways that enable them to be empowered in all aspects of decisions and actions affecting their lives. 3.Treating each person as a whole – Social workers should be concerned with the whole person, within the family, community, societal and natural environments, and should seek to recognise all aspects of a person’s life. 4.Identifying and developing strengths – Social workers should focus on the strengths of all individuals, groups and communities and thus promote their empowerment.

26: 4.2. Social Justice Social workers have a responsibility to promote social justice, in relation to society generally, and in relation to the people with whom they work. This means: 1.Challenging negative discrimination* – Social workers have a responsibility to challenge negative discrimination on the basis of characteristics such as ability, age, culture, gender or sex, marital status, socio-economic status, political opinions, skin colour, racial or other physical characteristics, sexual orientation, or spiritual beliefs.*In some countries the term “discrimination” would be used instead of “negative discrimination”. The word negative is used here because in some countries the term “positive discrimination” is also used. Positive discrimination is also known as “affirmative action”. Positive discrimination or affirmative action means positive steps taken to redress the effects of historical discrimination against the groups named in clause 4.2.1 above. 2.Recognizing diversity – Social workers should recognize and respect the ethnic and cultural diversity of the societies in which they practice, taking account of individual, family, group and community differences. 3.Distributing resources equitably – Social workers should ensure that resources at their disposal are distributed fairly, according to need.

27: 4.Challenging unjust policies and practices – Social workers have a duty to bring to the attention of their employers, policy makers, politicians and the general public situations where resources are inadequate or where distribution of resources, policies and practices are oppressive, unfair or harmful. 5.Working in solidarity – Social workers have an obligation to challenge social conditions that contribute to social exclusion, stigmatization or subjugation, and to work towards an inclusive society. 5. Professional Conduct It is the responsibility of the national organisations in membership of IFSW and IASSW to develop and regularly update their own codes of ethics or ethical guidelines, to be consistent with the IFSW/ IASSW statement. It is also the responsibility of national organisations to inform social workers and schools of social work about these codes or guidelines. Social workers should act in accordance with the ethical code or guidelines current in their country. These will generally include more detailed guidance in ethical practice specific to the national context. The following general guidelines on professional conduct apply: 1.Social workers are expected to develop and maintain the required skills and competence to do their job. 2.Social workers should not allow their skills to be used for inhumane purposes, such as torture or terrorism.

28: 3.Social workers should act with integrity. This includes not abusing the relationship of trust with the people using their services, recognizing the boundaries between personal and professional life, and not abusing their position for personal benefit or gain. 4.Social workers should act in relation to the people using their services with compassion, empathy and care. 5.Social workers should not subordinate the needs or interests of people who use their services to their own needs or interests. 6.Social workers have a duty to take necessary steps to care for themselves professionally and personally in the workplace and in society, in order to ensure that they are able to provide appropriate services. 7.Social workers should maintain confidentiality regarding information about people who use their services. Exceptions to this may only be justified on the basis of a greater ethical requirement (such as the preservation of life). 8.Social workers need to acknowledge that they are accountable for their actions to the users of their services, the people they work with, their colleagues, their employers, the professional association and to the law, and that these accountabilities may conflict.

29: 9.Social workers should be willing to collaborate with the schools of social work in order to support social work students to get practical training of good quality and up to date practical knowledge 10.Social workers should foster and engage in ethical debate with their colleagues and employers and take responsibility for making ethically informed decisions. 11.Social workers should be prepared to state the reasons for their decisions based on ethical considerations, and be accountable for their choices and actions. 12.Social workers should work to create conditions in employing agencies and in their countries where the principles of this statement and those of their own national code (if applicable) are discussed, evaluated and upheld.

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  • Title: How to do International Social Work
  • A "how to" book describing ways socail workers can get involved internationally
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  • Published: almost 7 years ago