Julie Riese, M.S.S. '18, is going places. The alumna of the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research will be working with the Department of Research, Development and Innovation at the Tierra de Esperanza in Chile.
In an interview, Julie talked about her exciting opportunity.
What got you interested in social work?
I graduated from the University of Delaware in 2013 with degrees in Sociology and Spanish Studies. My background in sociology really laid the foundation for my interest in social work as a career. The systems and structural analysis of society in the field of sociology deepened my understanding of social injustices and oppressive systems, highlighting the need for both large-scale systems change and direct-practice work with individuals and communities as well. I grew up learning from my mom, who is a social worker, about the importance of empathy and speaking truth to power. I was drawn to the versatility of the field from the variety of roles she has played as a social worker over the years. She is a huge inspiration and role model for me. I decided to pursue my master’s degree after two years of service as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Philadelphia and my work as a truancy case manager in Southwest Philadelphia. Both of these experiences deeply impacted my interest in the intersection between systemic injustices and mental health.
What will you be doing in Chile?
I will be working with the Department of Research, Development and Innovation at the Fundación Tierra de Esperanza in Concepción to help develop their international presence and collaboration with global partners, like Bryn Mawr College. Additionally, I will help implement best practices in an effort to more comprehensively serve youth and their families in Chile and Latin America. The position marries research, data analysis, and translation of evidence-based practices. Tierra de Esperanza is also responding to a growing need for clinical services for immigrant communities in Chile, particularly from Haiti and Venezuela. The team is interested in my clinical experience providing therapy with undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America and intend to develop psychosocial interventions to address the needs of and better support immigrants in the community.
Have you ever worked outside the country before?
No, I’ve never worked outside of the United States before, which makes this opportunity that much more exciting (and daunting!). I studied and lived in Granada, Spain, for a semester during my undergraduate education as a part of my Spanish Studies curriculum, but this will be my first work experience abroad. I really appreciate the support I’ve received from the Fundación Tierra de Esperanza, my mentor Carolina Hausmann-Stabile, family, friends and colleagues about this next step.
What excites you about the work you'll be doing?
I look forward to learning from my new colleagues and collaborating with international partners. I know this experience will enhance my understanding of international social work. Tierra de Esperanza is working tirelessly to destigmatize mental health in Chile and Latin America and I look forward to developing and strengthening macro social work skills and incorporating my clinical understanding into this work. I was offered the job in the fall after meeting with Chilean colleagues and am excited to work and learn alongside them. I felt immediately comfortable in their presence and inspired by their commitment to serving youth and families.
What else do you plan to do while working there?
I’ve never been to South America so I’m eager to travel when I can and explore Concepción. I’ve connected with people online who live in the city and are learning English and hope to cultivate friendships with them around language learning and improve my Spanish at the same time. I also love music and look forward to exploring the live music scene there.
Bryn Mawr's Graduate School of Social Work is distinctive for its dedication to fine teaching, attentiveness to individual students, and high academic standards within a liberal arts tradition. Founded in 1915, the GSSWSR has from inception embraced scholarship, practice, and collaboration within a broad construction of social work and social welfare.