We have a new translator this week named Slovic. He is very interesting and the students like him a lot. He not only translates the words but he also stands and sits as we do and uses the same hand motions and voice inflections that we do. Yesterday the students were memorizing the Helping Process and they started talking to Slolvic and laughing. He began saying the steps as if he was memorizing them. Then he told us that the students told him it was most important for him to know the steps so that when they were asked the repeat them he could give the right answer even if they did not. He is good about letting us in on the jokes in class so we know what all the laughing is about!
Today we met with the president of the college and the dean of social work to talk about our dreams for the continuation of the master’s program here. We also gave him the money that the Baylor social work faculty and staff and some Lake Shore folks gave us to spend as we saw best. We asked him to purchase social work books in Romanian and Russian for the social work department. They are still in desperate need of books in their languages. We have tried since we were here in 2005 to get books for them and have found that it better to give them the money and let them purchase them.
We heard a very interesting comment in class today. We were doing assessment and planning for a case one of the students offered from their practice. In identifying the client system it came out that the woman was Russian. That is her primary language was Russian. The students in class identify themselves as Romanian, i.e, their primary language is Romanian. One of them commented that the only lazy people in Moldova were Gypsies and Russians. The interesting part of this is last week when we were discussing diversity, stereotyping etc. they all assured us that there was not any discrimination in Moldova. They finally admitted to some prejudice against gypsies but strongly denied that there was any based on language. After that comment, we worked on this pretty hard and had good discussion. As would be true in any class some got it and some did not. One student who really got it said, “I will have to work on that, but it will be hard.” We talked to Oleg and Vitali about this later and Oleg said, “This is what I’ve been trying to explain. It is the extreme nationalism that occurred following the fall of the Soviet Union. People are still very angry at Russia and anything Russian.” We think it is like institutional racism in the U.S. Any kind of discrimination is illegal in Moldova, but that does not erase individual attitudes.
I (Preston) am finding teaching the practice course and the skills lab much more difficult than teaching the Introduction to the profession course. I know that seems strange to my colleagues in the SSW since I teach advanced practice. I was really exhausted Monday by noon and still 4 hours to go. As I’ve thought about it, I think it is the demand to not only teach theory and talk about skills, but you have to be prepared to demonstrate the process and the skill at the drop of the hat. I have developed a much greater appreciation for those of you who teach our students the foundation practice courses.