Social Work Students Help International Delegates Feel at Home

Thursday, March 30, 2023
Social Work Students Help International Delegates Feel at Home

Paradise Valley Community College is filled with faculty going above and beyond lesson plans to create valuable, educational and hands-on experiences for their students; real-world experiences and service opportunities that expose students to everyday life, career opportunities, sometimes on a global scale.

As a longtime member of the Council of International Fellowship (CIF), PVCC’s Social Work Faculty Stacy Moreno gives students the opportunity to volunteer outside the classroom by helping out global leaders right here in the Valley. As the United States representative through CIF’s parent organization, Council of International Programs, Moreno regularly welcomes social workers and other civil society leaders from all around the world and helps develop their itineraries to events and meetings to enhance their understanding of various social issues here in the states.

In 2021 in the midst of the pandemic, Moreno presented virtually to social workers all over the world on the impact COVID-19 had on the practice dimension of social work in the U.S. She tasked her students with discovering the impact of the pandemic on various socio-economic levels and groups and their lives, then invited students to help present the findings to the fellowship audience.

More recently, Moreno was in charge of hosting global delegates from Armenia to learn about best practices for Combating Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault; and in November 2022, she hosted parliamentary staffers from Mongolia, as part of the Library of Congress program Congressional Office for International Leaders.

“We shared our local culture with the delegates, exposing them to fun things like a Veteran’s Day parade and a professional basketball game, as well as harsher realities like a local family shelter, and important meetings with congressional representatives to discuss more critical issues,” said Moreno. Delegates met with various leaders including former Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and members of former Governor Doug Ducey’s team.

PVCC second-year student Brian Kelley, who is studying social work at PVCC, jumped at the opportunity to engage with these groups.

“It has been a wonderful experience,” said Kelley, describing how even with the simplest of tasks – driving the delegates around on errands or to their scheduled events and meetings – he got a lot out of these interactions.

“I learned some conversational language to show them I cared, and also made a point to learn about the history of their country,” Kelley said. “It was important to demonstrate a sincere interest in engaging with their culture and it’s been amazing how much they seem to appreciate my efforts. I’m there to help and have made some good friendships along the way. All of it is fascinating to me.”

Kelley, who is planning to complete his bachelor’s degree in Social Work when transferring to Arizona State University, also volunteers at a refugee center helping temporary residents prepare for their English proficiency exam for U.S. citizenship. He is looking forward to offering up his services again this spring when, in June, new delegates arrive from Hungary. The delegates will come to learn about social migration, as they figure out how to support Ukrainian refugees. And in September a delegation arrives from Azerbaijan on the theme of ‘Promoting Community Social Change through Sports in the U.S.’

Jessica Moran, another PVCC student, also volunteered to help Moreno out with the Mongolian delegation. “I was extremely thrilled and honored to be able to partake in such a profound week,” she said.

“The experience allowed me to interact and learn so many new things about their culture, beliefs, and how things work in their own country,” said Jessica, who is studying social work. “I now have a better understanding of how our politics work as well, and I look forward to helping out future delegations.”

Want to Get Involved?

Professor Moreno is looking for additional students who wish to gain global work-based experience and help out with future delegations. Students can volunteer to be involved hands on or help design and develop the program week. Faculty and staff can also get involved in relevant programs, or can support the program by becoming a host family for a week. For more information, contact or 480-427-6204.