Beth Okantey, ’01 master of social work graduate, presented a colloquium at Walla Walla University on Jan. 11 to share her professional experiences as a social worker in Ghana and the opportunities available for student practicum experiences in that country.
Okantey lives in Ghana where she runs a field practicum program for social work students from across the United States. She also teaches online social work courses for several universities in the U.S. She has nine years of international social work experience including work in Jamaica, England, and the U.S., as well as Peace Corps work in Malawi and Ghana.
At the colloquium, Okantey shared information about field placement options available in Ghana that include working with orphaned and trafficked children, the aging population, HIV/AIDs testing and counseling, substance abuse treatment, public health, and others.
Practicum experiences abroad usually last one quarter, with students earning 12 credits for their field work of approximately 420 hours.
Okantey says, “One of my favorite things about Ghana is that people really take time for relationships. People there are so friendly. It’s very easy to move around. … And English is the primary language. There is a big push for being culturally humble and sensitive. You will learn how to work with people in situations that are diverse. You learn to depend on yourself and figure out a different culture.”
Susan Smith, dean of the WWU School of Social Work, said that when it comes to international practicum experience, many employers appreciate the fact that students were able to thrive in a situation that is different and possibly more challenging than domestic practicum experience. This kind of experience “gives students an interesting juxtaposition to how we do things in the United States,” she said.
To date, two WWU social work students have completed practicum experience in Ghana.
Poster Jan. 15, 2016