You may be wondering what it is we do exactly in the Latino Certificate program here at the Univ. of Denver, Graduate School of the Social Work (GSSW). This program is not about “saving” Latinos as this way of thinking diminishes worth, autonomy, and strength. It’s about walking alongside communities in solidarity. Our neighbors, both foreign and domestic, are part of this global community. For students accepted into the Latino Certificate program we offer social work classes taught in Spanish, we offer students the opportunity to utilize their Spanish speaking skills in over 100 bilingual internship placement sites, and we address the former and current conditions of Latino populations both in the U.S and abroad. But equally as important is the course abroad where we are at present. We speak with community leaders, spiritual leaders, activists, social workers, local families, and professors from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)). We do this in the spirit of the Freirian Pedagogy where dialogue and reflection are at the center of our interactions. “Authentic thinking, thinking that is concerned about reality, does not take place in ivory tower isolation, but only in communication” – Paulo Freire.
Yes, we visit beautiful places, we eat amazing food and we experience cultural using every one of our senses. But we also push ourselves to think critically about how and what we see so that the social service delivery we provide in the U.S. is based in the Latino context…so that we strive to be culturally responsive and carry an identity of cultural humility as micro, mezzo, and macro level social workers. The pictures posted here do not truly capture the depth of what they’re learning, but they offer a small glimpse of those that honor us with their time, words, and wisdom. The Latino Certificate students represented here, and those that have come before them, have come to learn and listen. They care a great deal about Latino populations and cultures (as well as many other marginalized populations) which is why they’ve chosen to obtain this Certificate concurrent their Master of Social Work (MSW) degree…their blog posts offer just a taste of how they are processing this emotional and life changing experience.
Thank you for supporting our students,
Stephen von Merz, Clinical Assistant Professor &
Social Work with Latinos/as Certificate Coordinator