Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Social Work in Mexico City

After our week off for Semana Santa (Holy Week), the CGE Social Work students had the opportunity to go to Mexico City for one week to have a an exchange with the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico or the National Autonomous University of Mexico). During our week we explored the many different things that the UNAM offers its students and its community, including visiting multiple museums, internship sites and cultural sites.

UNAM building with a mosaic representing different eras including the pre-hispanic times, the conquest and the revolution.
Here is a quick and brief history about the UNAM for those of you who this is the first time hearing about it. The UNAM was founded in 1551 as a religious institution called the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico.  The UNAM as it is known today was founded on 22 September 1910 by Justo Sierra as a public university. The UNAM has one of the largest campuses in Latin and America. The Social Work program is the smallest of the disciplines and has over 2,500 students.

UNAM school of Social Work Emblem
During our stay we had the opportunity to go to a museum about the 1968 student massacre. In 1968 around 10,000 students gathered to protest in Tlatelolco Square. The protest was primarily peaceful and done with the aspiration to influence political change in the country. The army surrounded the students and attacked the students. There is no accurate death toll, but between disappearances and actual deaths numbers are said to reach from the hundreds to the thousands.
Social work students at the modern art museum at the UNAM

Another key part of our exchange with the UNAM was to find out similarities between our social work programs. Something that fellow classmates and I found very interesting was the emphasis on Social Workers, being involved with providing access to cultural sites. We got to visit different practicum at both the regional and institutional levels and both groups of students were placed in museums. 

Diego Rivera Art Museum, a practicum for UNAM students.
This planted the question in my mind: if Social Workers in the United States should or do have a footing in providing the community with access to cultural experiences?

-- Brittney Westgard


  1. Nice post Brittney! and thanks for the link to the history of the UNAM very creative!

  2. Thought provoking question, too....

  3. Well I just learned more about the UNAM and what it's about, nice post :).

  4. Great post Brittney! After our trip there it really made me wonder that same thought. I am curious if there are social workers that have the role, in the U.S., to work directly with museums to help ensure that people are learning about and having access to their cultures and histories. It would be interesting to look further into. :)

  5. First of all, Brittney I miss you mucho!
    That amazing mural on the building there is very impressive. I once helped create a mural in my old junior high. It was one of the most painstaking intesive things I have ever done. I cant imagine what went into that work, especialy then for it to tell history is very significant.

    Keep up the good work there in Mexico. I know that its coming to a close but drink up the warmth and sun! your coming home to temps in only the 50s and 60's.

    Be safe, have fun

  6. Just recently, there have been a protest at UNAM. From the news article that I was reading, the protest was for the 'free public university education'. This protest caused five students to be expell from the school, and ten to be suspended for three to six months. The next day, fourteen students (with masked on), occupy a building of UNAM and demanded the school to bring back the five expell students and to continue making the "free public university education." For those that are interested in this matter, you can just GOOGLE up the information for further details about what will happen.