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International Days in Social Work in Austria - Grace McPhee's Story

Grace posing with a group of people

International days in social work is an opportunity I would encourage any Social Services student at NSCC to participate in. While in Austria we learned many different approaches to the helping profession. We met with Social Workers, Philosophers, Engineers and those who work in their communities. During this time, we heard from students and faculties from all across the world, we learned how they do social work in Mexico, The Netherlands, Austria, Germany, America and so many other wonderful places. International Days in Social Work has challenged my everyday beliefs and allowed me to take these new perspectives back to my community. New perspective is something that we always need to take into our work, when we challenge our own beliefs, we allow ourselves to be more aware of our own biases and therefore become better Social Services workers. Change allows us to challenge norms, especially those that may be problematic in the field. During our time we took classes on gender as a social construct, daily racism in post secondary education, social networking for our clients, social robotics; we also had site visits to a homeless day shelter, social work with offenders, and foster care and adoption. We had many wonderful organizations come to us as well, Lena, which is social work for sex workers, SOS, an organization for those seeking asylum in Austria, and so many more wonderful people. Through these opportunities I have learned skills on outreach, community, collaboration, communication and peer support. We learned about coping skills for rebuilding ourselves during a global pandemic, challenging our assumptions about those around us and learned how we can effectively change the community around us. During our time we visited a prison, it was shocking to see the difference between prisons in Austria and those in Canada. The big difference between the two was essentially rehabilitation, Austria offers programs to offenders which offers supports for inmates after release; they offer mental health support, financial support, and put the focus on setting these people up for a successful future in society. These are some of the small things that I think could really benefit us here in Canada.

I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to explore not only social work, but the beautiful country, food and histories. If I could go back and do it all again, I would do it in a heartbeat!

Grace McPhee
Social Services Student
NSCC Pictou Campus