tiistai 27. toukokuuta 2014
Cultural Diversity and Social Work
The main theme of Thursday’s lectures was cultural diversity which was addressed both by Juri Killian from the University of Kassel in Germany and Inga Gaižauskaitė from Mykolas Romeris University in Lithuania. In addition the German and American student panels presented us some of their local social work practices.
In his presentation Mr. Killian talked about the German immigration policies and how it has evolved since World War II. Although the history and the present of immigration are very different in Finland and in Germany both countries seem to share the same expectations for the future immigrants: ”high qualified migrants” i.e. people with good education as well as young and healthy people for low paid jobs in elderly care, construction sites etc. At the same time as they are welcomed inside the EU and the countries mentioned, refugees, asylum seekers and other unwanted groups of people find it even harder to get through the borders. Mr. Killian’s presentation was followed by an interesting discussion about multiculturalism at different levels.
Ms. Gaižauskaitė based her lecture on IFSW ethical guidelines as well as Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity by UNESCO. She challenged us to think about which cultures we belong to and what European identity is and could be. Our cultural background plays an important role when in contact with different cultures. Ms. Gaižauskaitė reminded us that culture is inherited and learned and it is not easily changed. We as social workers and individuals experience cultural diversity and globalization from our own cultural perspectives. As an EU member Lithuania is prepared for immigrants on macro level e.g. in legislation. But there is a huge cap between macro and micro level as individuals and communities are still not prepared for multiculturalism.
German students gave us an interesting insight in social work in Germany, in both private and public services. The biggest social work field in Germany is working with young people. The students presented a hypothetical case of a young drug addict and his treatment options as well as plenty of information and first-hand experience about the work at a youth center in Kassel. The American students gave us a glimpse of the areas of social work they have expertise in. It was interesting to learn about the different methods and programmes they use to help people as many social problems are similar in Europe and in the USA. We were impressed by the large amount of practical training both the Germans and the Americans have in their curriculum as they had clearly gained expertise from these experiences. Apparently, the Americans also knew that ice hockey is a good ice breaker in Finland.
Tens of delicious dishes from all around the world were served at Pot Luck Dinner on Thursday evening.
Meri Isojärvi, Maija Kujala and Ulla Mehtätalo from the University of Lapland