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Returning to the roots of how this project originated, this photo is of me standing next to the dedication to Ellen Baxter, an American woman who traveled to Geelin 1975 and tried to bring the model of family foster care back to the United States.

Kavitha Lobo

Study in Belgium

  • Curriculum Track:
    16 month

I was abroad for 3 weeks for my Global Independent Study project. My project involved learning more about the de-institutionalized family foster care system of psychiatric care developed in Geel, Belgium. I followed an anthropological design of interviewing social workers, psychologists, nurses, doctors, and foster families to determine their relationship to and experience with the family foster care system and Geel.

What made you interested in Global Independent Study?

The open-ended and creative approach to the GIS design was what made this specific global social work experience appealing to me over others because I was able to choose how to plan a trip that fit my ethical values in engaging with those from other cultures.

What advice would you give, based on your own experience, to students considering Global Independent Study?

My advice would be to choose a faculty advisor who matches with your level of comfort with uncertainty, flexibility, and ethical values in cross-cultural travel. Choosing Dr. Laura Lein as my faculty advisor was instrumental to allowing for the flexibility in only finalizing my project plan six weeks before I left, as she was used to and comfortable in knowing that my project would come together while in Geel. My trip took about seven months of preparation and a serious period of time in which I thought it would not work out as hoped for. So my advice would be to be patient and persistent if there is a plan you want to do as the way that planning functions in others countries can look quite different than it does in the U.S. It might seem like things aren't coming together while you are communicating with your contacts abroad, but once you get to the country the agenda could look quite different than you thought, at least that was my case where my host had planned out several connections and trips for me that I was unaware of ahead of my visit.

Poster Archive of Previous Student Project: Care not Cure: Insights from the Family Foster Care System in Geel, Belgium

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