Published June 10, 2021
MSW 2021 graduate, Samantha Walton-Wackford, recently completed her field placement internationally and virtually. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walton-Wackford was considering an international placement with her hometown of Guyana in South America. Instead, she was able to complete her placement from a distance, working with her field educator, Ingrid Goodman, for a very impactful experience. Below, Walton-Wackford shares her experience.
"I am a Guyanese-American survivor of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and a proud Master of Social Work (MSW) graduate of the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Due to the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, my international advanced placement with the Women’s Refuge Guyana (WRG) transitioned to a virtual one.
Under the leadership of Ms. Ingrid Goodman, Executive Director of WRG, a community violence prevention and intervention agency, I have had a rich and diverse array of experiences. At the micro-level of practice, the agency embraces the person-in-environment (PIE) systems manual for assessing and intervening with Guyanese clients from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. In conjunction with PIE, I have had the opportunity to share and integrate my knowledge of the trauma-informed and human rights perspectives into our work with clients. At the mezzo-level of practice, culturally responsive inter-agency collaboration approaches are necessary for intervening with clients; especially indigenous groups living in rural communities across Guyana. Specifically, building partnerships with churches in local communities has been critical to social work practice in these regions, as the church offers a safe and trusting environment for providing assistance to those with little to no resources. Finally, activism by way of public awareness participation and engaging education and social work institutions, such as the University of Guyana and governmental agencies, remains crucial to efforts that target policy reform at the structural level. Advances in technology and social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, have made collaborating with Ms. Goodman and WRG possible! I remain committed to returning to Guyana in the future to use my knowledge, skills and expertise to advocate and collaborate at the micro and macro levels of Guyanese society for the rights of vulnerable and oppressed groups.
I want to say thank you, UB and Ms. Goodman for an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime experience!"