by Kathryn Levy, MSW
January is often considered a time to start anew; to change things from the previous year and look at those areas where we can improve. Few among us do not make at least one resolution moving into the new year, whether or not we express them vocally. Better health resolutions, whether it be fitness or weight-based, is common. Spending less and minimizing at home also seem to be pledges many take. But what if this year we all take some time to become more socially conscious? Instead of focusing solely on ourselves, we take on a resolution that affects not only one person, but also those around us?
Being socially conscious is a sort of social awareness. Instead of focusing on the individual, we develop empathy and responsibility for the problems and injustices that exist within a society. It means paying attention to things that we have overlooked, on purpose or not, in order to gain a better understanding of the world beyond ourselves.
image: John Hain Creative Commons CC0 1.0
If we resolve to be more socially conscious, how does one go about doing that? Of course, saying “I’m being socially conscious” is not enough (though a good start). Fear not! Below are six simple ways anyone can be more socially conscious. Committing to even one of these is a great way to step into 2016!
by Pat Shelly
We’ve all heard the saying:
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Aristotle said, “The soul never thinks without a picture.”
Pictures can inform and inspire us.
One way to brighten and broaden the view of social work is through infographics.
An infographic is a visual representation of information or data. It combines data and design in a format that is easy to share and to understand.
Given the role of technology and the internet in knowledge-production and dissemination, this educational tool is especially useful today.
by Paula Cummings, MSW candidate
December 31, 2014
With a new year dawning, we offer this post to encourage balance in our lives — both professional and personal — in 2015. Guest author Paula Cummings has established a comprehensive self-care regimen; here she reviews what she finds helpful in building and maintaining such a program.
Take a piece of chocolate. Unwrap it as slowly as possible. Breathe in the scent. What memory does it conjure up? Place the chocolate on your tongue. Let it melt on your taste buds. Take the time to experience how it feels and tastes.
This was an exercise in the Mindfulness and Movement class I take weekly at Sati Virya Yoga & Therapy in Rochester, New York. Being in this class helps me to center myself, so that I am grounded in the present moment. It reminds me to stop and breathe. But most importantly, it helps to buffer the stress of working and studying in the field of social work.
While social work is rewarding and fulfilling, it can also be emotionally draining. We are often drawn to this profession. Our compassion for our fellow human beings and our sense of duty for improving the human condition drives us. However, our compassion and commitment can leave us vulnerable to work-related stress. Without proper attention to our own wellness, we can find ourselves in a position where we are giving too much.
This can lead to a loss of meaning, connection, and awareness, causing us to focus only on getting through the day-to-day activities of living, losing sight of the bigger picture of human rights and social justice.
by Judson Mead
Tabatha Lumley (MSW ’14) has known some bad days. She was left to fend for herself and her deaf brother, Michael, when her mother was deported to Jamaica from Buffalo six years ago (her father had been deported a few years before).
Seventeen at the time, Tabatha lived for a while without heat or electricity, getting Michael ready and onto the bus to his school for the deaf every morning and then getting herself to high school.
It was tough — but she got through. A grandmother and siblings in Rochester made a semblance of a whole family. Thanksgiving and Christmas were very special family celebrations. Tabatha became an American citizen. She earned a degree in criminal justice at Buffalo State College and enrolled in UB’s MSW program, intending to add a law degree eventually.
Then she suffered a loss she hasn’t recovered from.
An interview with Elizabeth Agnello, MSW student
by Pat Shelly
This post of the interview, conducted in February 2014, is continued from Part One, published March 27th.
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Agnello is now in her last semester and will receive her M.S.W. degree in May 2014. She also holds a M.A. in Japanese Literature, and speaks Japanese, Mandarin, Italian and Spanish. Since September her field placement has been at Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute (hereafter referred to as “Roswell”), a national leader in cancer care. Lizzie is in the Psychosocial Oncology unit at Roswell, which addresses the social, environmental and emotional impact of cancer on peoples’ lives.
Tell us about your field educator/supervisor.
Glenn Frost, LCSW is my supervisor and field educator at Roswell. He is a Medical Social Worker, and also a UB School of Social Work alumnus. (Note: As an adjunct faculty member, Glenn has taught Social Work Interventions and Professional Development Seminars at UB.)