Saturday, June 19, 2010

Spiriuality and Social Work: Day 2

Yesterday was a full one of lots of interesting conference presentations including my own. It started with a presentation on the Anti-slavery movement in England as a model that could guide contemporary social change movements, particularly ecosocial work. Next there was a presentation about religious coping among unaccompanied minors who are asylum seekers in Ireland. I got to connect with the young Ph.D who gave this presentation who is a social worker in Dublin. After that was a presentation by a Croatian social worker who now lives in New Zealand. It focused on the concept of compassion as a basis for social justice.

I then got to go to a workshop about research on spirituality. I was amazed to be in the presence of scholars who had pioneered research on spirituality and social work like John Graham, Rick Csiernik, Susan Cadell, and Diana Coholic. I felt like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert, though I managed not to scream or anything like that. They really broke down the business of academia and what you have to do to make it in an area of research that is marginalized by the academy in a profession that is also marginalized by the academy!

I spent lunch time fretting over my presentation and making last minute preparations. I was going to be the last of three 20 min. presentations. The first person who was supposed to present never showed up (didn't see that one coming). The next presentation was about spirituality and social workers with bi-polar disorder (very interesting). Finally, my turn came. I managed to get through the whole thing without saying "um" a lot (that was a specific goal I had) and everything flowed quite nicely. I managed to make people laugh which is always a good sign in my opinion. There were definitely times when people looked tired or bored but I tried to ignore it and kept smiling and talking and talking. Before I knew it I was done and then people were actually making thoughtful comments and were fully engaged. I felt a bit of pressure because some heavy hitters of the social work world were in the audience like Michael Sheridan and John Coates. They gave me high marks on the presentation (what a relief) and people eagerly snatched up all my handouts. Not bad for a rookie scholar who had never presented at a conference before! I felt like an academic bad ass.

The other afternoon presentations were interesting as well. John Graham presented research on happiness and social workers. Another person talked about research on interfaith dialogue. Finally, Rick Csiernik presented research on traumatic experiences of social work students.

One more day left and back home for Father's Day.