Ein bisschen überfordert und frustriert…

A little overwhelmed and frustrated…

The very thing that I was afraid of happening is starting to happen. There is so much need, seemingly endless problems and unfortunately, not enough helping hands to provide the refugees and asylum-seekers in this city with the support and assistance that they need. With that being said, I am starting to feel really overwhelmed by all of the daily tasks that need to be done at my internship and frustrated that there aren’t enough Social Workers, volunteers, funds and time to get these tasks done.

I was (and still am!) so proud of Germany for opening their borders and taking on this huge responsibility of providing a home for practically one million individuals, but the truth is, is that there are not enough people who are willing and ready to serve this population. Even I, a temporary intern, with only the slightest grasp as to how all of this works here in Germany can feel the pressure and stress that results from this huge deficit. For example, trying to find a Farsi speaking interpreter to accompany one of the residents at one of the GRC’s (German Red Cross’) shelters to a doctor’s appointment is always such a challenge because there simply aren’t many people to do the job, the ones who are available are individuals who would like to be paid to do so, or they are volunteers who are happy and willing to help but work full-time with very limited availability.

Additionally, I have recently been asked to start preparing myself to move from an “assistant role” to a proper “Social Work” role. This is really exciting because it means that I can provide a little more relief to my fellow co-workers eventually and get the most out of this experience but this is also a bit daunting because there is still so much to learn and unfortunately, there is not much time to learn everything beforehand. Therefore, I will probably be doing lots of learning as I go within the next few weeks, as well as asking a million questions as they come up.

The one comforting thing that keeps me sane in the midst of all of this chaos and frustration is that I, and the residents in our shelters are extremely fortunate to have such hardworking, kind and dedicated Social Workers by our side. Although they are often overworked and stressed, they still do their job to the best of their ability, go above and beyond for each other, as well as for their clients, and for that I am extremely thankful.

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8 thoughts on “Ein bisschen überfordert und frustriert…

  1. Pat Shelly

    Hi, Cherice, My first thought upon reading this post was, “What is she doing for self-care, especially in a foreign country without her usual network of support?” Your feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated are certainly understandable – here in Buffalo, it is frustrating for me to think that some of our refugee population are now facing a closed door to family reunification due to federal policy. So – thanks again for writing about your experiences.

    1. chericew Post author

      I talked to my best friend about all of this and that was also her first thought! Other than sleeping, I have made it a point to set aside time to fit in some self-care activities such as, eating some great food and dancing! They have definitely been helping and keeping me afloat. Thanks for looking out for me Pat.

      Believe it or not, it has been affecting people here too and it comes up in conversation all the time with my coworkers and the residents who have family in the US. In stark contrast to the US however, due to the current situation in the middle east, individuals from specific countries like Syria and Iraq actually receive more favor than asylum seekers from African and Eastern European countries throughout the asylum process!

      1. Pat Shelly

        What a difference in immigrant/refugee policy you describe , between the EU and US. The social work profession is holding many more discussions on our ethical responsibilities and professional values regarding our advocacy. Examples: Webinars on SW in the changing political environmental, and the nonviolence training offered by UB and the Undergrad and Graduate Student Associations next week http://www.buffalo.edu/ubnow/briefs/2017/02/nonviolence-training.html.

        1. chericew Post author

          That is great and so necessary at the moment. I am so glad that we as Social Workers are for the most part, like-minded regarding issues and topics like these!

  2. Nick Engels


    Lovely to see you pursuing your dream in Germany… finally! The refugees are fortunate to have such a caring, hard-working lady like you. Hoping you find time amid the chaos to reflect and take some deep breaths.


    1. chericew Post author


      Thanks for checking out my blog and for the encouraging words. Thank you also for the reminder to take out some quiet time for myself. I hope all is well!

  3. Sharon Menter Vincent

    Cherice, Congratulations & thank you for your social work services with the refugees in Germany. You & the current generations of MSW students carry forth in the proudest traditions of the social work field. Do not be overly concerned about promotions & moving along in responsibilities without feeling you have enough experience. In our profession, & many others, we prepare as much as we can, but often are well qualified to move along and just keep learning & adding to our skills & store of knowledge. Life is about always learning new things anyway, at anywhere we are in the life cycle. I graduated from UB in 1971 with an MSW that has served me, & others, well over the years. I am ‘still’ working ( people are always asking me this) & learning further skills in our profession. I will add my favorite ‘saying:’ Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you will see farther.” Best regards, Sharon Vincent

    1. chericew Post author


      Thank you for such thoughtful and kind words! I really appreciate your comment about having enough experience because I think that I and many of my colleagues feel as if we are not quite qualified and prepared for the work that we hope to do. What you say makes lots of sense and I will try to keep that in mind when I start doubting myself again!

      What a great saying as well. I feel as if it speaks perfectly to my situation and my desire to want to continue working in an international setting. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

      Mit freundlichen Grüßen (With friendly greetings),

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