Monday, April 19, 2010

Mexican Social Work Students Come to Cuernavaca

By Rachel Takazawa
St. Olaf College


¡Bienvenid@s, estudiantes de la UNAM! Welcome, UNAM students!

Throughout the week of March 22nd to the 26th we (students of CGE-Mexico) were visited by students of UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). UNAM is a public university in D.F. (Mexico City). These UNAM students were Social Work students, here in Cuernavaca to learn about aspects of Social Work in the United States, as well as come to know fellow Social Workers from another country. They were a group of 7 whom, upon arrival made their presence known with pleasant greetings. We as an entire group tossed around yarn in a get-to-know-you game. This was the beginning of a great week and some great relationships.

Class Activity with UNAM student

The first night at dinner the room was buzzing with conversation. People had successfully integrated and Spanish was heard much more than English. The language barrier didn’t keep anyone from having a great time. This intercambio (exchange) was not only great for the two groups but also for those from UNAM b/c most of the 7 didn´t even know each other.

Throughout the week Social Workers from CGE gave the UNAM students presentations on VAWA, Medicaid and ICWA.

VAWA is the Violence Against Women Act, which promotes a better life for domestically abused persons. It provides resources, grants, support, and laws through the federal government.

Medicaid is a health care system that is intended to help provide assistance to persons living below the poverty line in the United States.

ICWA is a program to promote cultural identity of Native American children through adoption laws and court assistance. All three of these were great tools to help create conversation about the similarities and differences between the United States and Mexico.

More Class Activities with the UNAM students

It was interesting to find out that Mexico has shelters and important acts set in place in order to assist persons of domestic abuse. The Mexico system has some advantages in regards to payment of such services, nonetheless, it appears that the United States makes it more accessible. The medical system however, was described to us as more accessible to people here in Mexico. Yet on the other hand the quality of the services are less adequate. On the topic of ICWA, Mexico doesn’t really have a program similar, but there are programs that try to teach people about their indigenous cultures and create a place to perform rituals and ceremonies.

What do you know about VAWA, Medicaid and/or ICWA? How do they affect minority groups?

To Be Continued...


  1. Wow! That is super cool that you got to meet swk UNAM students! I'm surprised to hear that they didn't know each other, how big is UNAM? I suppose being an Augsburg student I am spoiled by our small class sizes. Sounds like meeting the UNAM students gave a lot of good insight about policies. Thank you for sharing those with us!

  2. This sounds like an awesome experience! That is a really great way to learn more about the systems in Mexico. Its cool to hear about others learning about some of the same things we are starting to learn more about.


  3. I think it would be a great experience to meet with Social Work students from another country. It would be interesting to learn how the ethics and methodologies differ and also how the status of a social worker differs from culture to culture.

    -Alycia Dahlen