Costa Rican school of social work visits UIC

Students from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica visit UIC’s Jane Addams College of Social Work.

By Brian Tibbs

Forty students from the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica (ULatina) visited Jane Addams College of Social Work (JACSW) Aug. 23. The group was from ULatina’s School of Social Work, which was established five years ago.

Professor Rosa Anais Chan, the director of the growing program in Costa Rica, said her students were intent on visiting Jane Addams College to learn about its social justice mission and work with disadvantaged and marginalized communities.

After opening remarks and welcomes from Dean Creasie Finney Hairston, the Costa Rican students introduced themselves and gave a brief explanation of their interests in social work.

Presentations of Research

One of the aims of the visit was for the students to hear about research in social justice being conducted by our faculty. Two JACSW professors presented their recent work in the areas of child welfare and the effects of violence on youth.

Associate professor Jennifer Geiger spoke about her work involving the child welfare system, particularly her focus on young people who are “aging out” of the system. She is developing an approach for recruiting these young people into colleges and universities, and ensuring they receive the supports necessary for them to achieve academic success.

Associate professor Henrika McCoy presented the work she has done under a grant from the National Institute of Justice. Her project, SURVIVE (Suburban, Urban, Rural Violence:  Investigating Victim Experiences), examines the impact of violence and trauma on young African-American males living in a variety of environments.

Additionally, two colleagues from Dominican University were invited to participate because of their work in international social work and community development. Assistant professor Jim Sherrer presented about his experiences with community development in several countries, including Ethiopia, where he worked with professor Alice Butterfield. Their approach helped communities recognize their own resources and capabilities.

Associate professor Joyce Shim from Dominican presented her experience in international social work, including collaborations in several countries including Mexico and Ecuador. Her approach has been one of leveraging local expertise to address social problems.

The Costa Rican students listened eagerly and engaged in discussions with the faculty, asking many questions about their work and about social justice in Chicago and in the U.S.

Future Collaboration with ULatina

During the visit, Dr. Chan met with Creasie Finney Hairston, dean of Jane Addams College of Social Work, to discuss a cooperative agreement to facilitate future faculty, student and community exchanges between the two schools.
“It is always exciting for the college to create new connections with social work colleagues in other countries,” Hairston said. “The resulting exchange of knowledge and best practices with ULatina will be enriching both schools, and will expand learning opportunities for students and faculty alike.”


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