Israel is nearly 7,000 miles from Tulane University, but Ron Marks, dean of the School of Social Work, could think of no better place to study trauma than a land that lives with traumatic events, or at least the threat of them, 24 hours a day.
So Marks and Charles Figley, director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute, traveled to Tel Aviv recently to launch an exhaustive study on how Israelis cope with traumatic stress..
When Jane Parker, director of the Institute for Psychosocial Health at the Tulane School of Social Work, thought of the concept of a boot camp, the words “rough” and “difficult” came to mind. She wanted a much more soothing title for her self-care workshop for social workers.
So she dubbed it “Slipper Camp” and invited participants to ditch their heels in favor of warm, snuggly and even silly-looking bedroom slippers.
“If we’re not taking care of ourselves,” Parker said, “we’re more likely to make poor judgments and burn out.”
Madeline Lee’s passion is helping vulnerable children and families who are navigating the crossroads of child welfare, mental health and special education systems, and thanks to a new Tulane professorship, she’ll have some extra support to do that.
The newly created Sonja Bilger Romanowski Professorship in Social Work at Tulane University will be used to support the research and scholarship of faculty members in the early stages of their careers. Appointments are for three-year periods.
Since she was 15, Lisa Baker has worked to help adults and children with disabilities. Thanks to her professional project at the Tulane School of Social Work, she was able to advance her passion. Baker is one of 85 master of social work graduates who will receive their diplomas on Friday (Dec. 14).
“It was really successful, and we were fortunate to have a lot of community and agency support to pull the event together in such a short period of time,” Baker says.
On Nov. 16, fire chief Bob Sinnott posted the following on the website of the Silverton (New Jersey) Volunteer Fire Department No. 1: “Our community was beautiful and now so gloomy. We are pulling together to help each other empty our homes to rebuild them. We all have lost something but will restore our community.”
The Silverton fire department is located in Tom’s River, N.J., an area devastated when Hurricane Sandy blew ashore in late October. Sinnott’s words, evoking sadness, resignation and determination, are indicative of the complexity of emotions experienced by responders and caregivers in a disaster zone.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters and deliver the keynote address to graduates at Tulane University’s 2013 Commencement, which will take place at 9 a.m., May 18 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“We are honored and excited to host a leader of such universal renown, whose wisdom, humility, kindness and humor have won him worldwide admiration,” Tulane President Scott Cowen said. “The Dalai Lama’s message of compassion, humanity, equality, peace and service truly resonates with the Tulane community and its graduates.”
ResilientAfrica, a consortium that includes Tulane University’s Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, Makerere University in Uganda, Stanford University and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has been awarded a $25 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to apply science and technology to strengthen the resilience of African communities against natural and man-made stresses.
ResilientAfrica will unite 20 African universities in 16 countries, representing over 300,000 students and faculty members, to form a network to empower African communities.
The Tulane Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy and the Tulane Green Club recently gained the attention of the international community. Both were featured in videos discussing the resiliency of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Charles Figley, co-director of Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA), appears in a short film titled “Katrina Seven Years Later: Stories of Resiliency.” It was produced by the Tzu Chi Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on charity, medicine, education and humanistic culture.
Part of Tulane since 1927, the School of Social Work is more globally focused than ever before. Now it can expand its international ties, as the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy joined social work on July 1.
Social work dean Ron Marks is happy to embrace the new relationship with DRLA and its executive director, Ky Luu, who came to Tulane in 2009 to develop the academy and train global leaders in disaster risk management.
South Africa has the largest population of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS on the African continent. Millions of dollars go into programs designed to help them and their families, but are the programs working? Tonya Thurman, a new School of Social Work researcher, is stationed there to study that vital question.
Thurman, a Tulane alumna who founded the Tulane International office in Durban, South Africa, is now a research associate professor in social work.
Nearly 20 years after the Rwandan genocide, social work is an emerging field in the country. Beata Mukamurenzi and Charles Kalinganire, two social work professors from the National University of Rwanda, shared their stories about the role of social work in a postgenocide society during a presentation at Tulane University.
The duo spoke on Tuesday (July 10) to more than 50 students and faculty as part of an annual study tour sponsored by the School of Social Work and the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane. The professors attend classes, work with field agencies and interact with Tulane faculty to learn about best practices.
A group of 14 students is taking part in the Compassion in Action India Summer Program, which takes students to Dharamsala, India, and other places in Himachal Pradesh each summer for a month.
Rising junior Teresa Palkowski, who has always dreamed of going to India, during her first trip there with the program heard the Dalai Lama deliver a lesson at his temple.
“This trip has been an invaluable experience, specifically because of how well-rounded it has been. What makes this trip truly humbling is that these people are genuinely happy and peaceful people despite the poverty they face,” says Palkowski. “Traveling to different parts of India reinforces the Buddhist philosophy that neither the accumulation of material possessions nor fixation over negative feelings will equate to happiness. I have learned from my mutual learning partner, who is one of the Dalai Lama’s nuns, that happiness is simply a state of mind.”
Recently retired Air Force social worker Lisa Sayegh has more than 25 years of experience with active duty military and veterans, and she is bringing that experience to the Tulane School of Social Work with a new military social work elective.
The elective, “Clinical-Community Approaches to Working With Military Populations,” is a first-time offering in social work at Tulane that contributes to a rapidly growing field of study and practice.
When December 2011 social work graduates Lucy Bromer and Caroline Crowley saw the ongoing mental health struggles of children in Haiti due to the 2010 earthquake, they decided to offer a solution — in three languages.
The duo wrote and illustrated a 52-page children’s book The Big Shake in Haiti’s three main languages — Haitian Creole, French, and English — as their professional project, which is a key graduation requirement in the Tulane School of Social Work. The book is intended to help children process the trauma they experienced.
Leah Krandel’s passion for addressing issues of diversity rings true in every word she speaks. For three months this fall, she took that passion to South Africa as part of her global field placement. Krandel is one of 91 students who graduated from the Tulane School of Social Work on Friday (Dec. 9)..
What started off as a trip to learn about public protest and how to advocate through discussions with elected officials turned into witnessing the beginning of an ongoing national movement as seven social work students traveled to Washington, D.C.
Led by social work assistant dean Julianna Padgett and adjunct faculty member Nancy Thacker, seven students participated in the “Stop the Machine” protests from Oct. 6 to 9. Those protests quickly became closely aligned with the worldwide Occupy Wall Street movement.
Takashi Fujioka, a visiting scholar from Japan who specializes in social work burnout prevention, has designed a new method for monitoring mental health professionals working in a disaster zone. Fujioka spent several months in New Orleans working with the Tulane Traumatology Institute at the Tulane School of Social Work to help mental health professionals in Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami.
A professor of social work at the Japan College of Social Work, Fujioka survived the March 11 earthquake disaster. “It was like a slow-moving horror show,” he says.
To learn best practices in social work, a trio of professors from the National University of Rwanda School of Social Work spent the month of July at Tulane University on a study tour. In Rwanda, social work is a new profession formed in 1999 in response to the country’s mental health needs following the 1994 genocide.
“Although they had psychologists and counselors trained, the knowledge needed to attend to the psychosocial care needs of the population was very limited,” says So’Nia Gilkey, an assistant professor of social work at Tulane and study tour coordinator. “Social work seemed to be the best fit to get people trained to meet those needs.”.
When social work student Tonia Tillman graduates with her eight fellow part-time students, it will be the end of a journey she calls one of the most important of her life.
Tillman commuted two nights a week for three years from Plaquemine, La., to attend night classes while working a full-time job as a paraprofessional with Ascension Parish. She also competed a field internship on Monday evenings and Saturdays, in pursuit of a master’s degree in social work. So what would inspire a person to create such a schedule?
Secluded from the hustle and bustle of family life and university obligations, four women on the Tulane faculty have created for themselves a citadel of constructive criticism, founded on a platform of mutual trust, respect and goodwill.
Katie Acosta, Nghana Lewis, Beretta Smith-Shomade and Social Work Assistant Professor Rebecca Chaisson have united in what they call the “Sistah Circle,” a newly formalized writing group. Through the support of the Newcomb Center for Research on Women, the group meets monthly at A Studio in the Woods retreat center.
Less than a month after the 2010 Haitian earthquake, two Tulane students listened intently as a pair of earthquake survivors told their story and implored the New Orleans community to help in any way it could. They answered the call with their professional project.
Before their December 2010 graduation from the School of Social Work, Tuyl Fletchinger and Jordan Matevich created a culturally specific, arts-based HeARTs With Haiti curriculum to help Haitian children express and process the trauma they experienced and are still experiencing.
Clinical social worker Isabella Christodoulou loves coming to work each day, and one reason is the effectiveness of her “guerilla therapy” to reach New Orleans’ homeless and at-risk youth who flock to the Drop-In Center on North Rampart Street, on the edge of the French Quarter.
“It is fabulous to come to work every day because I don’t know what amazing person I’m going to meet next,” she says. “The main thing is that you have to engage people as quickly as possible because when an individual comes though, you don’t know if you are going to see them again."
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Tulane School of Social Work, 6823 St. Charles Ave., Building 9, New Orleans, LA 70118 800-631-8234 email@example.com