The Social Work Student Organization (SoWoSo) is composed of all degree-seeking students in the School. Student-created and directed caucuses within SoWoSo represent the interests of and provide support to the School community. Students are encouraged to attend and contribute to formal committee meetings that occur throughout the academic year.
This year, SoWoSo has added two new caucuses — International and Homelessness.
In response to increased student interests in international social work themes and demands for more structured opportunities to gain international experience during the MSW, a faculty group convened an “international interest” meeting with students in spring 2014. That session yielded recommendations for the School of Social Work to facilitate greater internationalization of the curriculum and field practicum options, as well as support for students to proactively pursue their international social work interests. The mission of the caucus is:
The International Caucus of SoWoSO will allow students to collectively explore Social Work issues and practices across language, cultural, and national borders. Our purpose is to connect social work students with current and future international opportunities and to advance understanding and collaboration beyond a U.S. perspective. We will accomplish this through sharing our existing international experiences, getting involved with global events around campus and the community, and staying informed about trends and topics that impact social work internationally.
Final-year full-time MSW students Laura Garlock, Sara Harwood, and Meli Kimathi are co-chairing this initiative. All students across MSW tracks are encouraged to participate, adding to the diversity of international interests and ensuring a vital impact on their social work education.
Second year, full-time students Allison Winston and Leah Smith are excited to announce the addition of the Homelessness Caucus. They created the caucus this summer, after overhearing a lunch conversation between classmates about what they should do when asked for money by someone on the street. Winston and Smith are both working with people experiencing homelessness through their field placement at the Critical Time Intervention program, run by the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health.
Winston and Smith learned about issues affecting homeless populations in class — such as mental health, oppression, substance use and health care — though they wanted a more dedicated time and space to discuss how those issues all come together to specifically affect homeless populations. They see the Homelessness Caucus as that space to bring students together to educate themselves, break down stereotypes and have meaningful and challenging conversations.
The caucus plans on hosting events that bridge the gap often found between the School and the community, such as bringing in people who are currently experiencing or have experienced homelessness to tell their stories, collaborating with local agencies on projects and advocacy efforts, and volunteering with local events such as Project Connect and the Point in Time Count. Other ideas include lunch and learn discussions, a sock drive and a photojournalism collaboration. They are open to all ideas for the new caucus, and welcome any interested student or community member to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.