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Global Perspective

Each year the different units of the School of Human Service Professions take an international trip abroad. They alternate going together as a whole school and taking individual unit trips. This year each unit planned their own trips to Japan, London, and China.

The Center for Social Work Education opened its trip to Japan to all disciplines.

“These interdisciplinary trips give students the opportunity to explore the similarities and differences in how the various human service disciplines approach their professional roles,” Dr. Paula Silver, dean of the School of Human Service Professions, said.

“Even more importantly, the international trips expose students to the ways their disciplines are practiced in different cultures.”

While in Japan, social work, clinical psychology, and human sexuality studies students and faculty visited several sites together, including the Kubota Clinic for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The clinic embraces an innovative model of community-based care with a well-integrated community presence,” said Dr. Linda Houser, associate professor of social work. “Their model is proving to be well received by the community, which is something we are trying to establish in the U.S."

They also visited International Christian University, which houses the only Gender and Sexuality Studies program in the country, a progressive department with about 30 Japanese and international undergraduate students.

All of the Widener students and faculty also spent time with four survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, after visiting the memorial and Peace Museum.

“You can read about the bombings, but hearing about what they experienced really gave a sense of the level of destruction that changed their lives,” Houser said.

Visiting with the survivors was a highlight of the trip for many students, including Chase Smith, ’15, who recently graduated with a master’s degree in social work education.

“It was devastating to hear their stories, but also so moving,” he said. “They had no anger, they just wanted to share their stories and educate people about peace.”

Before going to Japan, students participated in a course led by Dr. Sachi Ando, a former assistant professor of social work, who is from Japan. The students made origami cranes, which is a part of the grieving process in Japan and shows respect for Hiroshima survivors. Ando was able to string them together to hang at one of the many peace memorials.