By Amanda Nichols, Bachelor of Social Work
The CSU Global program Delivery of Services to Vulnerable Populations in Malaysia was such an amazing experience and really worth doing. Over the two weeks I learned so much about social work in the broader context, as well as the Malaysian way of life and beautiful, diverse people.
The key thing I learnt is that social workers around the world have a common goal, which is to optimise the well-being of people and communities, yet need to be smart about their specific political, social and economic contexts, and to act effectively. For example, in Australia an advocacy strategy might be to openly criticise government social policies. However, this is not acceptable in Malaysia, so a better strategy is to create strong government contacts and educate them about social issues.
Another significant difference are our countries judicial systems. Malaysia has a dual Sharia and Westminster system, which has impacted the way social workers can work with and advocate for Muslim families.
Going to Malaysia changed the way I see the social work profession. I now realise how intelligent, savvy and passionate we need to be to promote the welfare of people and societies, with limited resources and governments reluctant to assume responsibility for their needs. The inspiring organisations that I learnt from taught me how this can be done. I now have more confidence about working overseas and I aspire to do so.
One of my favourite sites was the Batu Caves. There is a 42 metre gold statue of Lord Murugan at the front, with a Hindu temple and shrine inside, reached by climbing 272 steps covered with monkeys!
We were offered placements with the organisations we visited which was delightful. The universities in Kuala Lumpur and Penang offered a semester of study with them also. It’s really exciting when unexpected opportunities open up before your eyes.
My time in Malaysia and related course content helped me to understand the commonalities social workers have at a global level, while valuing and learning from diversity.
I would definitely encourage other students to take part in CSU Global programs. In addition to the ways the Malaysia program impacted my study and career aspirations, there were personal benefits. As a distance student and full-time caregiver for my grandfather, I can sometimes feel disconnected from university life. The trip to Malaysia made me feel happy and excited about life and study again. There was plenty of time to go sight-seeing and experience Malaysian culture, including delicious food.
The program was also quite affordable. It was subsidised and there were loans available to help with the costs. I also didn’t spend much money at all, a large serve of yummy local food was equivalent to a couple of Australian dollars. There are always new short-term programs available – why not check out the CSU Global website today?