School of Social Work hosts events for International Social Work Day

By Amanda Thomas

Baylor School of Social Work will be celebrating International Social Work Day with a food tasting and panel discussion today from noon to 3 p.m. today. The events, which are open to the public, will be held on the second floor of The School of Social Work, located at 811 Washington Ave.

“This is the first time the School of Social Work is celebrating International Social Work Day,” said Jennifer Smyer, director for Global Mission Leadership in the School of Social Work. “This is an opportunity to pause and recognize the excellent work that social workers do.”

The School of Social Work is hosting this event in order to make attendees more culturally conscious.

“We are more connected to the globe than ever and global interactions are happening on a daily basis,” Smyer said. “We hope this event will equip the attendees with an increased knowledge on how to serve in international settings.”

“Taste the Nations,” a sampling of food from around the world, will start at noon. After “Taste the Nations,” Julian Alum, Global Mission Leadership Scholar and second- year social work master student, will give a presentation about HIV and AIDS in Uganda and the contribution of social workers to try and to fix the problem. Alum is a Uganda native.

“Julian is an outstanding leader in her community in Uganda,” Smyer said. “She has made the commitment to return back and implement her knowledge and to specifically work with people who are HIV and AIDS positive.”

As a child, Alum lived in poverty, but in 1994, she received sponsorship from Compassion International, a Christian child development program.

Alum said growing up and working with the social workers from the organization inspired her to become one herself.

“They helped me build up my self-esteem, worked with me and worked alongside of me,” Alum said. “It impacted me, so when I grew up I wanted to do the same for someone else.”

Alum will present a PowerPoint to describe her experiences working with HIV and AIDS patients for Compassion International, explain how social workers can help and clear up misconceptions people have about HIV and AIDS.

“I want to demystify misconceptions about HIV and AIDS and give them the real facts,” Alum said. “As I present, I pray that I will get more social workers on board.”

After Alum’s presentation, there will be a panel discussion with social workers to discuss their personal experiences and international social work. One of the members of the panel is Trevor Stephen, a fourth-year dual master seminary and social work student.

Stephen plans on working with faith-based international organizations and is currently doing research.

“Last summer I worked with Buckner International in Ethiopia, teaching 150 students about community development,” Stephen said. “I am also researching organization effectiveness and how an organization knows that it is being impactful.”

Like Alum and Smyer, Stephen says he hopes this event will make social workers and attendees aware of international social work and encourage them to get involved.

“Social work happens domestically as well as internationally,” Stephen said. “One of the things I want the audience to take away is the sky’s the limit when it comes to international social work.”