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Rural social workers study U.S.-Mexico border

By Paul R. Pace, News staff
Rural social workers gained insight into the issues impacting people along the U.S.-Mexico border during the 41st National Institute Conference on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, which was held in July.

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) College of Health Sciences Department of Social Work, along with the National Rural Social Work Caucus and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, hosted the event.

Held at the university’s Tomás Rivera Conference Center, attendees were in close proximity to the two-nation border and had the opportunity to participate in community field visits in El Paso, Dona Ana County, N.M., and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.

From left, Norma Gonzales, Eva M. Moya, and Elena Dela Vega attend the 41st National Institute Conference on Social Work  and Human Services in Rural Areas.

From left, Norma Gonzales, Eva M. Moya, and Elena Dela Vega attend the 41st National Institute Conference on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas.

“The U.S.-Mexico border offers a rich environment in which to have courageous conversations to help us think through some of the strategies, policies and actions to move from surviving to thriving and creating new paradigms in rural practice,” said Eva M. Moya, conference chairwoman and associate dean and associate professor of social work at UTEP.
“We believe that our binational locale affords an especially relevant venue at a time when issues of immigration reform, health reform and economic development are at the forefront of national and international discussions,” she said.
The conference theme was “From surviving to thriving: New paradigms in rural social work.”

Plenary speakers, presenters — including UTEP students  — scholars and professionals, and community partners who provide critical social services to border residents, offered insight on border and frontier issues at the conference. The community tours helped participants come away with a sense of the many factors that make the U.S.-Mexico border region unique, Moya noted.
“UTEP is fully integrated into the community,” she added.

From the October 2016 NASW News. NASW members can read the full story here.

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