New Categories not only in Social Work
Valeria Cardozo, from Uruguay, and a social assistant, chose the one year program from among the possibilities for study offered by the IUS; one of many possible choices.
Valter Hugo Muniz, Brazilian, and journalist, in finding himself in the same courses as Valeria a year ago wished to interview her for the publication Cidade Nova of Brazil (text is published also in http://escrevologoexisto.com).
Valeria returned to Montevideo as of last December and now that she is home again, Valter has asked her to ...., update the interview and to re-read her journey, both in her profession and in studies done, in the light of the months spent at Sophia, in Italy.
“30 years behind her, and in front, lies the future of a better and more just world. Valeria is not happy to cultivate this Ideal only in her interior world and tries to go forward daily and actively in this direction.
As a countertendency in respect to a diffused practice of assistentialism, she considers her activity to be turned towards individuals who live at the margins of society, a constant ‘walking together’, in which it is necessary to look at each other reciprocally with a look of authentic fraternity: “What must grow are not only the material standards of quality of life, but the awareness of our common citizenship.”
Before arriving at the IUS, what was your job mostly directed towards?
I have worked as a social worker for more than 3 years: the main project was promoted by the local government in partnership with some ONG and it was located in the Borro quarter, one of the poorest in Montevideo. There, social services take care of children, adolescents and families who live in condition of extreme social vulnerability.
The project itself was very articulated, but all could be translated into a series of initiatives for assistance and be rapidly exhausted.... For this reason I was trying not to lose sight of the objective: to promote first of all the dignity of the quarter’s inhabitants by favoring their participation and social cohesion, by opening up communal spaces so as to go beyond the isolation, to face problems together by dialogue and collective action.
What were the results?
Some were visible, others less. For example, we were able to obtain a certain restructuring of public spaces and the creation of new spaces for entertainment uses, especially for the youth and the elderly. Other results were of a strategic nature instead, and required more time, but they are the most efficient type to react to the emarginated, such as the one of creating a social network to favor exchanges among the population of the quarter and the various socially active associations. But the most important result was the one involving the inhabitants of the quarter: many of them became personally involved, proposing precise ideas, and felt responsible thereafter for the life of the quarter.
Then came the interruption for the year of study at Sophia and now you have returned to your work as a social assistant. Has your job changed? How would you describe your profession today?
I have started to work already! Today, I am collaborating in a project towards children between 5 and 12 years of age and their families. To work in the social sphere has always meant to me to integrate my profession with the desire for a more fraternal world, in which the rights of all be fully respected.
Sure, it is a little difficult to be able to make a comparison between my life and my work before and after the experience I had at the IUS: the year I spent there was very intense under many points of view. It has been a turning point for me, for it asked me to change... and the assimilation of new categories I have learned about has not yet concluded.
I can say without a doubt though that the months lived at Sophia have helped me to ‘integrate’ life and thought in that which I believe: a more just world, the same, and different, at the same time. Everything, the economic and political disciplines, but also the possibility of knowing the professors and the students at the IUS, who came from all over the world, they have all made me different, first of all within me and then also on the job, more tolerant, more aware of the needs of others, of their pains and their joys. It is a great treasure that has become a part of me.”
Text in collaboration with: Valter Hugo Muniz