Spotlight on Maggie-Over the Rhine Residency Program

Congratulations and great work to our students who completed the fall 2015 Over-the-Rhine Residency Project as a part of their Social Work Field Experience: Lauren Gould, Stella Norris, Maggie Botts, and Sarah Busemeyer. This unique program allows Social Work students to live for one semester in the Over-the-Rhine community and to complete the first part of their Senior Field Experience at local social service agencies. The program also counts fully toward the thematic sequence requirement. Applications are accepted in October for the following Fall term.

From Thomas Dutton, Director of the Miami University Center for Community Engagement in Over the Rhine:

“Offered through the University’s Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine, students from many walks of life moved to Over-the-Rhine for a full semester, living together, taking courses, engaging in reflection, and serving deep community need with neighborhood organizations, residents, and organizers… a primary goal is for students and community members, through the relationships and trust they build, to come to see the humanity beneath the narratives that circulate about Over-the-Rhine. Too often these narratives dehumanize; we come together to develop empathy.”

Today we spotlight a reflection from Maggie Botts from the Family Studies and Social Work Department:

“My internship at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) was by far the biggest learning experience from this Residency Program. I went into the Program with a preconceived notion that I should do my internship with kids; my minor was in child studies after all. Day one of orientation brought a change in the entire program for me and this was a pretty good indicator of how fast-paced and full of ‘newness’ the rest of my time in Over-the-Rhine would be. I wouldn’t have thought that my internship would change/influence my career path, but it sincerely has. Recognizing the passion that I have in me for the lives of those treated unjustly was something I think was always in me, but the support and guidance from people like Allison and the community have shown me the best way to fight these injustices that I can’t bare to sit with. I am proud of myself for further developing my opinions on those topics that are hard to talk about. I formed an opinion that was completely different than most everyone in my family. I formed an opinion that most students in the cohort hadn’t thought about either. I’m thankful that I was given the knowledge I needed to take a stance on difficult, yet important topics. These important topics included peace and nonviolence issues, immigration reform, human trafficking, and efforts to abolish the death penalty. I was able to spend one week fighting for a cause that felt right to me. I walked eighty-three miles from the Lucasville prison to the Columbus, OH State House to show Ohio and the rest of the United States of the need to abolish the death penalty. I was one of three who trekked the entire distance, which on some days had upwards of one hundred people, representing groups such as Footprints for Peace, IJPC, and Ohioans to Stop Execution. Because of this, I feel that even though I’m only twenty-three years old, I’m able to start working hard on tackling the social justice issues that I don’t want to be fighting by the time I’m eighty.

The geographical location of IJPC at the Peaslee Neighborhood Center played a part in my experience as well. I was able to see and feel the sense of community that people in the building have together. I remember one day when I made too much soup, I brought the leftovers into work and invited Bonnie over to our office. She made me feel so welcomed that it was just a natural gesture to share with her in order to transfer that same feeling. In addition to Bonnie, I was able to develop a bond and feeling of closeness with most people in the building. These same people are a true representation of the neighborhood itself. They are warm, caring, special, and involved. The people at Peaslee were always there to listen to me and help guide me through the obstacles I faced this semester. I know I could always go stop by someone else’s office and they would take time out of their day to talk to me about whatever was on my mind. Peaslee is a big part of my experience in Over-the-Rhine.

My biggest take away form Over-the-Rhine is that I need to continue to go into every experience as a learner. There is always something to learn. I can go into my next phase of life and tell people about what I know now but I need to learn from others as well. My career will be spent learning as much as I can from people. The learning I encounter will be different depending on the day, the person, and the experience. One thing they teach in social work is ‘start where the client is.’ Sometimes the learning may come in the form of personal stories shared from vulnerable people willing to share and teach me. Other times it might mean that I need to learn about laws and policies to make the changes I want to see in our community. Even though my college career is ending, I intend to continue learning in my career because I feel that the moment we stop learning, we stop listening, which means we will be ineffective in fighting for those basic human rights that we have learned to stand up for in this Program. This Program was the best experience on my four years of college at Miami and if asked, I would direct all students into the program at some point in their four years.”

For more information about our Social Work Program please visit:
http://miamioh.edu/ehs/academics/departments/fsw/academics/majors/social-work/index.html

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