2019 Non-local Placement
TAM Cheuk Nam Michelle, Undergraduate Year 3
Placement Agency: MOSAIC

This summer, I was placed in MOSAIC, an organization located in Vancouver, Canada, which works to empower newcomers. I work with the Moving Ahead Program, which provides settlement services for refugee newcomers with high needs.

The experience of having a placement in Vancouver was very valuable and special. We experienced many unexpected and unique characteristics that ignited our reflection on the situation of social services and policies in Vancouver and Hong Kong. With the guidance of supervisors and discussions with field mates, we learned a lot about the differences between the two cities.

The agency and colleagues were very supportive and flexible. As long as you were interested, the agency and the supervisor would always encourage you to increase your exposure. When I was interested in the services of other service units under MOSAIC, an opportunity was always there for me to dig deeper. For example, I joined as an assistant and observer in an LGBTQ+ support group held by another team. Colleagues and supervisors always invited us to join various activities to widen our horizons for more learning and exposure in different roles. Staff trainings, field trips, workshops, case conferences, team meetings and the university research conference are just a few of the activities available. In Vancouver, practicum students can be present at case managers’ case interviews, called shadowing, to observe case managers’ use of skills. In Hong Kong, students could only discuss the case interview with colleagues due to confidentiality issues and policy. It is, indeed, a special opportunity to shadow case managers for observation. By joining programs and case interviews led by different colleagues, I also experienced different kinds of working styles, which started my exploration into different possibilities in service delivery.

One special lesson I learned is about awareness and obligation as a global citizen. In MOSAIC, you can meet colleagues from many different counties. We said it was like a mini United Nations, and it was true! Here, I have met people I never imagined I could meet, as we are from different parts of the world. Working with them, my ideas and horizons about the world have widened. I now know more about Middle-Eastern and African countries that I only had a vague idea about before. In addition, affected by the social movement in Hong Kong this past summer, I understand more about the importance of international attention and action to different issues. Thus, I developed an awareness of my obligation as an international citizen to pay more attention to international issues such as wars, fighting for freedom and democracy, the rise of feminism and so on. This enlightenment cannot be started without interacting with refugees and colleagues from multi-cultural backgrounds. I do treasure this experience.

All in all, the nonlocal placement experience is a unique one that has assisted my professional and personal growth as a social worker and international citizen. The atmosphere in Canadian society is inclusive, respectful and open, and worth experiencing. Coming to Canada also means that you can perceive your hometown, Hong Kong, from a new perspective. Needless to say, it is beneficial for our reflection and learning. I do recommend students to take part in a non-local placement to have a unique learning experience!


ca 02Art work drawn by group members

ca 03Burnaby Pride Festival

ca 04Joining MOSAIC Staff retreat

ca 05Sunset in Victoria

ca 01Watching firework competition in Vancouver