I did it!
I am very sad and excited to say that I have done it. I finished my internship abroad and I am done with school for the rest of my life!!! This internship was not at all what I expected it to be back, when I found out about the German Red Cross in Duesseldorf and even when I spoke to my now, former supervisor. This was hands down one of the most mentally and emotionally difficult things I have ever successfully accomplished and I must say just how proud of myself I am.
My last week was so bittersweet, I was still all over the place (meaning, my schedule and at which shelter I was going to be at) but I ended up spending most of my last week at the main shelter where I spend a majority of my time throughout this experience. It was so hard and so sad saying goodbye to some of the residents and I even broke down in front of one of them.. But it was all because of how much I had learned from them, how loving and caring my coworkers were and how much Germany means to me personally. For my last team meeting that week, a really nice and beautiful breakfast was prepared as a goodbye to me and as a happy birthday to one of the Social Workers and one of the interpreters we work with as well. Gifts and hugs were exchanged and of course, I cried again!!! I wrote and read aloud my card from Buffalo to everyone and it was such a great day!
After I arrived back in New York and was a bit confused by all of the signs in English and was initially frustrated by people asking me at graduation, “how was Germany?”, I finally was able to reflect a bit more on my experience. There is so much I’d like to share but I would say that the biggest take away’s from this experience was the fact that I was able to do the very things I set out to do. Those things were for me to speak another language fluently enough to work in a Social Work role in another country and learn more about the immigrant and refugee population and to learn about them within the context of another country’s social welfare system. I could not have done these things without all of the amazing support and encouragement from the UBSSW faculty and staff, my family and my friends so, I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me.
Having had this experience also meant something very important to me as a black female coming from a single parent household and from a family where I am the only one, now, who has a Master’s degree. I’ve never really realized how profound what what I was doing actually was until someone recently told me and it is such an honor to have set a new standard and set myself up on a different path than that of most of my family. It also feels good because most of my life, people have never expected anything great from me. They’ve always treated me less than and treated me as if I would just be another statistic. Therefore, I really look forward to what else life will bring me and I am so excited to continue working in an international setting/ with diverse populations! Thank you again, those who have come along for the ride. Take care and feel free to contact me with any personal messages about my experience!