I believe that some things cannot be taught or felt in a classroom but rather you learn through your own experiences. In Costa Rica I have had experiences that have taught me tools that I would like to incorporate into my own profession. I would first like to tell you of an experience that I had while traveling to La Fortuna which is a pretty touristy place and my friends were hungry after having swam at this gorgeous river that is open to the public a.k.a. it was free. It was an experience that I will never forget because I went with some very special people and interacted with not just other tourists but just the locals that come here to chill on the weekends. It was refreshing to be in a place that was overflowing with tourists, but it was beautiful to hear Spanish echoing through the trees (even though technically I am one!) We spent two hours at the river just jumping from waterfalls and living it up with the locals, and then we walked to el centro (center of town) to get something to eat before we had to hop on the last bus out of town. I rushed quickly to “Hilda´s Fast Food Shack” and ordered the first thing on the menu because we were short on time and as my taco was cooking I began talking to the lady preparing my food.
Me: Eres Hilda? (Are you Hilda?)
Hilda: Para Sirvirle (At your service!)
We began talking about the food that she serves and she began to tell me how she got to be there. Hilda told me that she started working in La Fortuna five years ago because her husband had become very ill with cancer and wanted to move to La Fortuna to live there. After having moved there he passed away two months later and Hilda began looking for work. She found work at that same site where her business is now at but in that time it was owned by a Venezuelan man. Hilda told me that after a year of working for him he decided that he wanted to move back to his country so he left the space to Hilda and she then turned it into her own little restaurant with her own little touch! I also expressed losing my mother to cancer and we began to connect on a level that two strangers aren´t usually able to connect on. It was then that I learned about vulnerability and what it can look like.
As a future social worker in the community, I think that it is important to have vulnerability and connect with your community by being a part of the community. As Freire (Brazilian Academic/activist/philosopher) says, an outsider cannot make change in a society without recognizing those in the community and knowing their needs and ideas. He goes even further to say that it is only the community that can create real change because change happens from the bottom up not the other way around.
When getting out into the community, it is important to realize where your intentions lie, and not be afraid to be a little vulnerable. As Social Workers there are certain guidelines that we must follow. TRUE. but in order to gain genuine trust of the community, there must be a collaboration and a touch of vulnerability. This is something that I am going to take with me and a lesson that I will have not only for my own practice but also for my life as well!