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School of Social Work

Social Work in Global Context

The Nyack College Department of Social Work spearheads life-changing journeys for students to the Philippines each January through GSL Winter Abroad in the Philippines . These trips have provided a learning experience that has greatly impacted the hearts and minds of these men and women. They witness “up close and personal” how people on the other side of the world work together to survive severe poverty. Students have an opportunity to visit social service agencies that deal with issues such as human trafficking, child welfare, poverty, substance abuse, and crime. They also serve and engage with an impoverished community in Cebu through family visits, community assessments, and building relationships.

The following student journal excerpts from the 2011 GSL Philippines will provide a glimpse into the learning and transformation students engage in during this course:

It was a nice outing with the home-school kids and parents this morning. There is a community of parents who will share this home-school experience for the next 10-15 years as the girls grow up together. I wonder what impact this home-school community will have on the girls, families, community, and even future generations. The time with the little girls stretched and deepened my understanding of community work  - community work happens one person at a time. Each little child, with her own sets of fears, quirks, strengths, obstacles, talents, etc. is invested into, and the collective investment, change, and impact will be so much more than anyone can count.

V's home visit was good - the mom was really sweet and engaging. I could sense she had a lot of fears though about the health of the children. The loss of their daughter and their other children's sicknesses must have been devastating and heart-wrenching.  I feel saddened, horrified, and angry that these poor aren't able to access health care and medicine because of their poverty. There are no financial, insurance, medical, social systems in place so that the poor don't just die from sickness. I’m horrified by the thought of how devalued the poor are because of their poverty. It's like they are being told they are not worthy of care and their lives are not worth saving just because they are poor. When will it be seen that a poor child's life and a rich child's life are equally valuable and precious? When will laws, social systems, and community values reflect this?

More information about this incredible experience can be found at the GSL Philippines Blog.

The next Winterim GSL in the Philippines will be held January 2-18, 2014. If you are interested in this trip, please register online at