Shuying Chen is a guest blogger this week. She is an intern from the University of Chicago - Social Service Administration who is completing a yearlong field placement working with our Intergenerational Housing program.
Before entering the M.A program of social work at the University of Chicago, I never seriously thought about what social work was. The only goal I wanted to achieve was being a therapist. However, I did not realize that social work has so much diversity. Even in being a therapist, there are occupational therapists, couples therapists, geriatric therapists and so on. I was confused and lost my aims suddenly.
Luckily, I have the chance to experience what a social worker would do with the elderly population through my internship at H.O.M.E.
To be honest, working with seniors was not my initial expectation. I have volunteered at a nursing home before, so I wanted to try a different experience with the population.
Maybe it’s destiny that I was assigned to work with seniors this year.
However, the experience is totally different than I thought. H.O.M.E is a very unique organization, which provides housing for low-income seniors. In addition, there are families living with seniors, too. The intergenerational settings make people living at H.O.M.E.’s buildings more like a family.
They eat meals together; watch TV shows together; play games together; and take care of each other.
It is a very interesting experience for me because I had never eaten food with people at my field placement before. I have a feeling that I am a part of the family.
Here at H.O.M.E I have more opportunity to interact with residents individually, which I am pretty excited about. Most of the residents have no close family members, so they are a little bit lonely sometimes. Usually, my duty is accompanying them and chatting with them.
I am always joking that my role at H.O.M.E is being their professional grandchild.
Actually, residents are pretty nice here and I can feel that I am welcomed and cared for by them. To my surprise, they love Chinese culture very much, which makes me feel lucky that I am from China. I wanted to bring some activities that are relevant with my culture and I found Tai Chi might be a good start for seniors. We have Tai Chi at H.O.M.E every week and residents love this activity. There are more and more people participating in.
This quarter I am also doing vision boards for our residents. In order to organize this activity well, I read several articles about how vision board can facilitate people’s motivations of achieving goals. I do weekly tracking through one-on-one interviews to check their goals’ completion progress.
Through the interview, I learnt how to build a trusting relationship with our residents and know their personalities better.
If they have difficulty in achieving their goals, I can be a resource to support them, which is pretty fun to brainstorm the solutions with residents together.
Even though H.O.M.E is not a clinical setting, I still have fun with our residents, staffs and volunteers. I hope the experience I get at H.O.M.E can build my professional skills of being a therapist in the future.
Find out more about how an internship at H.O.M.E. can help you build skills that will help you meet your career goals.
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