College collaborates with China

UH is one of seven universities chosen to partner with China in an effort to build a social work education program. The Graduate College of Social Work is a part of the China Collaborative, a project implemented by the Council on Social Work Education to assist in executing the Chinese government’s goal of having 2 million social workers by the year 2020.

“Our collaboration, and those of the other six US universities, will help our Chinese colleagues consider a variety of curricula models and resulting practice models and theories,” said Ira Colby, dean of the Graduate College of Social Work. “Conversely, U.S. programs will create opportunities for their faculties and students to experience the impact of cultural diversity and difference.”

So far, the GCSW is partnered with four schools in and around the city of Shanghai. Director of International Social Work Education and GCSW professor Patrick Leung emphasized the importance of establishing a social work program in China and what lasting impressions UH wants to leave after the program’s conclusion.

“This is a very rewarding experience,” Leung said. “Students and staff will learn from our partners about the problems that people in China are facing.”

Rural areas in China are dealing with families being torn apart in search for work. Children are being left in their grandparents’ care, while their parents migrate to urban areas to find jobs. Many of the elderly are also left alone in these areas while their children travel to the city for employment, Leung said.

UH’s involvement with the China Collaborative will include exchanges between students and staff of the institutions in the partnership, participation in U.S. or Chinese-based collaborative conferences and possible field practicum opportunities for students and staff in the U.S. and China.

“Multiple Asian organizations like Asian American Family Services serve the Chinese community, and its multicultural services are very beneficial to (Chinese exchange) students,” Leung said.

Leung said students in the GCSW are able to begin traveling overseas in summer 2014. They can spend a semester in Shanghai learning about Chinese culture and the lifestyle of its civilians. For students who can’t afford to make the trip, Leung said other options are available.

“We will use Skype to do interchange lectures between the two countries,” Leung said.

Along with Leung, the GCSW has two other professors working on the project. Award-winning social work professor Monit Cheung and professor Dennis Kao will also take part in seeing this project through.

Throughout the five-year partnership when UH will have schools in China, Leung hopes to leave a lasting impression that participants can take with them at the conclusion of the project.

Members of the China Collaborative will meet in October and November at the Annual Council on Social Education in Dallas to discuss the goals and plans the U.S. will put in place to make the project successful.

“We want to share our curriculum with them,” Cheung said. “We want them to take the strength from our (social work) program and develop their own curriculum to fit the needs of their community.”

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