Spanish social work and culture

By Laura Breeze

Today started with a visit to FEFCO, whose initials are loosely translated as the Foundation for the Education and Information of Cancer.  This nonprofit seeks to educate people about cancer, as there can be misinformation or simply a lack of information. They have websites focusing on four different populations: Breast cancer, prostate cancer, older adults with cancer, and relatives of individuals with cancer. One similarity between the men of Spain’s culture and the men of American culture is there is a lot of pride that can prevent the men from seeking help. A difference,however, is how relatives are involved. In America, we tend to be very individualistic, and we primarily deal with private insurance. Because of this, we don’t have programs that focus on relatives as often. But of course, a serious illness will affect an entire family, and better information and support to more than the individual with cancer can be a great benefit.

Our next stop was the Pere Torres Foundation. This is the School of Social Work in Barcelona. Since we have been here, we have been learning that social work in Spain is very different from social work in America. There are multiple aspects of social work that we’ve learned, from practices closer to counseling, to finding resources to clients, to macro practice related to laws. Most social work practice in Spain seems to be focused on connecting people and families to different resources, things that we might consider mezzo practice. They do take a lot of courses that appear similar to our curriculum, and it seems they have similar values, but it is not exactly the same profession.

After the educational visits, we were able to have fun and experience Spanish culture at a Flemenco show in Barcelona. I became extremely hyped when I learned that the area was used in the movie The Cheetah Girls 2, which was a favorite movie in my childhood. Once we went inside, we got to experience a calm and intimate atmosphere. The show was performed by a guitarist, a percussionist, a singer, and two dancers. It was amazing to see how well all of the different elements worked together. The guitar, rhythm, and tap of the dancers shoes all went in perfect time. It was lively and fascinating, and wonderfully Spanish. As a whole, the day was a wonderful blend of learning about the programs in Spain and enjoying their culture.

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