When I was a junior in high school, I went on a spring break trip with my best friend and our mothers. We drove all through the east half of the country, trying to find our dream college. During this trip, I was trying to determine my own path. As everyone was getting ready for senior year, I felt like I was the only one who had no idea what career path to take. I wasn’t even 17 yet, and I was supposed to have my whole life figured out. When we started this road trip, I had narrowed it down to two possibilities. From opposite sides of the spectrum, I either wanted to study photography or social work. Photography was more my idea and social work was my mother’s. It wasn’t until I sat down with the head of the Social Work Department at Indiana Wesleyan University that I realized social work was the path I needed to take
It can sometimes be difficult to see the paths we’re supposed to take. My journey to the Chicago Semester program felt like taking a leap of faith. I was simply trusting that I would end up where I needed to be. The opportunities that have come from this leap have been incredible. The life and history within Chicago serves as a reminder of the reason I decided to be a social worker in the first place. When we first had orientation for Chicago Semester, we were told that Chicago was made up of 77 neighborhoods, each filled with life, good people, and rich history. Most of us came into the program with an idea of what Chicago was like, the “bad” neighborhoods and people to avoid. Chicago Semester brought us back to the root: the life that travels across neighborhood lines, the history that envelopes the entire city.
This past weekend, I was able to visit the Hull House museum. As most social workers know, Jane Addams and her Hull House were at the forefront of social services in this country. Another social worker that was a part of our tour described the visit as a “pilgrimage of sorts.” Although the Hull House is not as big as it once was, it’s a representation of the lives that once thrived there. The surrounding area, once filled with factories and pollution, has been revitalized. The building that now stands as a museum is a reminder of the acts of service we’re called to as Christians and as Social Workers. We can never truly know what impact our work will have. We are not called to work for glory or recognition, but for the people who truly need us. There will be many times where recognition is not common, and gratitude is unheard of. There will be times where we cannot see any difference from our actions, and we can only hope that we’re being heard. The service that we are called to may spread out, causing ripples as big as the Hull House once did, or it may settle upon one person’s life. Whatever the impact, the Hull House is a testament to the legacy that this profession holds, a legacy that we are all privileged to become a part of.