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A story of attitude change from a young social work intern

When I first started doing home visits I was very judgemental. I came away from different places thinking to myself, “Why don’t they find a decent place for their kids to live? Why don’t they clean the place up? Surely they could afford a bed?” I realize now that much of my reaction was based on culture shock and ethnocentrism. As I’ve gotten to know the families better I am noticing that I have different thoughts as I leave their homes. I often think about how resourceful many of these families are and how optimistic they can be in the face of great obstacles.

I can see now how much the parents do care about their kids. In fact they often have to work especially hard to keep their children safe in some of these situations. It is clear to me now that they value family far more than material things. I am embarrassed to say that I think back to my first reactions; I believe that they reveal something about my own materialism and my love of my own creature comforts. These families have taught me that it is possible to have a good family life without these things.

Cited in Pamela Myers Kiser, ‘Getting the Most from your Human Services Internship’, Wadsworth, Belmont (Calif), 2000, p. 104.

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