9th March 1999
STUDENT HELPS FIGHT POVERTY IN TEXAS
Four months in the impoverished Hispanic community of San Antonio, Texas proved a learning experience for a social work student from the University of Lincolnshire & Humberside.
Fiona Hubbard, 27, from Huggate, East Yorkshire went to the United States for her second year placement and was thrust straight into the everyday difficulties of living in the socially divided southern city.
The west side of San Antonio is 98 per cent Hispanic and a stark contrast to the popular downtown area visited by tourists. Drug abuse and alcoholism are as prevalent there as in any major city and Fiona worked with local social services to target the most vulnerable victims of social problems - the children.
Working in a family centre, it was Fiona’s task to educate children on drug prevention and ways out of poverty other than joining teenage gangs.
“The children in these impoverished communities need to be made aware that there is a different way of life out there, and that they can achieve a better existence for themselves and their future families,” said Fiona. “Drugs and alcohol are a major problem and many youngsters grow up thinking there is no other way out for them.”
Fiona spent four months living with a local family. “Experiencing a different culture in this way was fantastic,” she said. “I didn’t get to see the tourist image most people expect of the southern states of America. Culture shock only hit when I saw a man who seemed different - then I realised he was white, the first white person I’d seen in weeks.”
The trip was organised in conjunction with Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio, whose staff gave Fiona all the support she needed. She worked with children who had behavioural problems and others from the community who could have difficulties in the future.
As a result of the placement Fiona has decided that she would definitely like to work with children once she graduates, possibly in the area of adoption and fostering.
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