As part of the School of Social Work’s ongoing international initiatives, undergraduate and graduate field practicums have been established in Tijuana, Mexico, at Ciudad de los Ninos and Casa del Migrante. Ciudad de los Ninos is a child welfare NGO and Case del Migrante provides services to migrant women and children. Our practicums in Mexico allow students to gain real-world international experience and simultaneously take classes at SDSU. Very few US social work programs provide such an opportunity. Students interested in either of these two practicums must have strong Spanish language capacity, including reading and writing.
Doing binational work across the border was one of my dreams going into the Social Work Graduate Program, but actually doing my Field Practicum in Tijuana was beyond my dreams. The opportunity to do the field practicum across the border is once in a lifetime opportunity. We are fortunate that the SDSU School of Social Work has established the program in Tijuana, and that they provide support throughout the educational experience. Living in the U.S. we see the relations with Mexico on the complex issues such as legal status, racial profiling, deportation, and the lack of healthcare. Yet, interning in Tijuana, the issues of migration and poverty are amplified. At Instituto Madre Assunta we were exposed more to issues of social injustice, women rights, family separation, and the factors that lead to migration. Some would have to travel far to have this experience, yet, we can just cross the border and get a glimpse of what’s going on around the world. The insight and perspective that one gains definitely prepares you for your career whether it’s International or Binational Social Work, or when working with future immigrant families or communities. There is definitely a need, and being bilingual equipped with Social Work skills grants us the opportunity to truly help.
– Linda Williams, Instituto Madre Assunta
Ciudad de los Ninos is a well established social service organization dedicated to providing high quality services, which makes it an excellent agency to learn from. It is also an organization that operates with scarce resources and a small staff, which creates a unique environment where interns are given hands-on opportunities and responsibilities. I was was able to work on micro, mezzo and macro projects, and had the opportunity to develop and implement my own pilot program. I was fortunate to work with the assistant director as my supervisor, which gave me insight into agency administration and management. I also really learned how to really work with and stretch resources available, which is an essential yet underrated skill in non-profit work. I learned more than I could have ever expected from the incredibly experienced and qualified staff and the once in a lifetime opportunities available to me at Ciudad de los Ninos, not to mention the richness of a cross-cultural experience twice a week!
– Tiernan Seaver, MSW student
Ciudad de los Niños is an agency that strives for the well being of children ages 0-13. Taking on the role of orphanage/group home and community center, the staff at Ciudad de los Niños, does anything in their power to help children from within the community. As a Social Work intern, I was able to gain experience and knowledge about Mexican Child welfare policy, amongst other things. I was able to work closely with children that had been removed from their biological family, as well as work closely with parents from within the community. There were so many things I was able to do at Ciudad de los Niños, and the best part was that our supervisors were open to suggestions and welcomed any type of help.This organization definitely worked at a macro/mezzo/micro level.
Personally I learned a lot being at Ciudad de los Ninos, and I definitely recommend this internship site. Looking back at my experience, I would not trade it for anything, it was definitely very rewarding.
– Margarita Lopez, MSW student