Walking United “Caminando Unidos” – by Marlanea Heaven

This week, my Monday morning started with a bunch of hugs from a bunch of children. I was welcomed back to my internship, after a two week break for Semana Santa (Spring Break). I became part of the family that Caminando Unidos created in the beginning of March. It is a program that consists of children from ages one to eighteen years old who come from marginalized families that have been exposed to different forms of abuse, addictions, and violence.

Children at Caminando Unidos are participating in a group activity

We organize group activities for children

This particular week, I had the opportunity to be with the children and staff for four days out of the week day. I observed the attachments beginning to form and the progression in relationships beginning to get stronger. I began to reflect on my first few weeks of my cross-cultural experience at Caminando Unidos and how I let the language barrier really take control of my position as a social worker and as a mentor there. But this week was different. As an intern social worker, working in a Latin context, I have been able to overcome my obstacle and gain the confidence I needed in working in this specific environment. I sensed my transformation forming within myself and used that energy as a source of empowerment for the children. Activities this week consisted of a dental hygiene class and an agriculture class where we learned how to plant fruits, vegetables and some medicinal plants. We had a great deal of interaction games this week and also engaged in team building activities. Social work is always at work in Mexico from people with the title and without the title. The staff at Caminando Unidos provides a social welfare space for these children to gain educational knowledge to teach, learn and support one another. Their mission is to build a healthy development of the individual, followed by the family unit and expanding to the community.

We're teaching kids to plant trees

We teach kids to plant trees

Being able to be a part of such a heart-warming family has affected me personally in the relationships that I have created and in my process of becoming a social worker. I am now able to take these experiences back home with me and work towards improvement for the future with any other cross-cultural experience I encounter.

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