The Saint Rose 2018 Social Work Learning Experience

Every year

Richard Pulice, Professor of Social Work, Saint Rose College, Albany, New York State, brings a bunch of students to the Netherlands for a week of touring and working visits throughout our tiny, little country. Because we have special programs/projects/companies and talents to show them. It’s all about getting to know a totally different culture, about getting to know a totally different social welfare system. It are true Learning Experiences in which we show what we are good at, when talking about people with complex challenges.

And a totally different weather pattern

The East Coast of the USA is covered in snow. Winter is not over yet. It’s raining in the Neds.

I have composed, in close collaboration with dr. Pulice, a working visit program for a week

The Living Museum, het Appeltaart Imperium (Haarlem), Respite Home Amerbos (HVO/Querido), GGZEindhoven, Groeirijk (GGZE), de Brouwerij (Molemann), Rob van Hulst Tours, de Cafeïne Dealers, B&B GGZE, Mad Studies and Altrecht, are just a few of the visits in our week in the Lowlands.

Duurzaam Verblijf in the village of Beilen

Is always on our list. I think it was the 5th time we visited this special program. And it was very special again.

They gave us, as always, the warmest reception ever

And they showed us their wonderful program(s). It is impressive how one can transform a restricted environment into a program where inclusion greats you at the door and recovery is the expectation.

It was a while ago since we visited Beilen. It was wonderful to hear that they are including certified peer specialist into their programs.

I asked Jacqueline if groups visit their facility on a regular basis. Surprisingly she stated that such does not happen often. Health Care workers from the big cities never visit Duurzaam Verblijf in Beilen.

I do not ‘should’ anybody, forgive me, but they should. I wonder how one can refer clients to this facility and not knowing what their clients are up too.

They might find out

That their clients are in good hands. They might find out that they have special tools to make their clients feel at home. They might discover that this facility looks like a holiday park and home. They might find out that clients can practice meaningful activities every day. They might find out that clients are allowed to cook their own meals. They might find out that this facility has her own supermarket where clients can buy groceries. They might find out that they have their own band. They might find out that clients, who have spent years in the big cities, do not want to go back and live in these cities. They might find out that they feel at home in this environment. They might find out that they have their own cafetaria on the premisses. They might find out that clients are allowed, although a restricted area, to travel to Groningen for a day. They might find out that clients can handle the responsibility of returning to Beilen, after a day in the big city. They might find out that the staff of this wonderful program welcomes visitors like long lost friends. They might even find out how the Broodjes Kroket and Beiler Kontjes taste in this Mental Health facility. They might find out why it helps to motivate people to visit Duurzaam Verblijf Beilen.

We felt like Kings and Queens

And we will remember this last visit forever.

After leaving a donation for their Peer program, we headed for Amsterdam. We had drinks at de Kop van de Zeedijk and we finished this Learning Experience with an amazing diner at Restaurant Freud (Roads/Arkin) in de Spaarndammerbuurt.

Thank you Sarah, Christine, James, Kirby, Josephine, Matthew, Grace, Joshua, Deonne, Amelia, Cara, Mr. Alexander Lawrence, Lorraine, Maureen, Richard and Abigail!

It was gaining new knowledge, it was chemistry, it was a knowledge exchange, it was a culture exchange, it was friendship, it was becoming a better version of yourself, it was a heart to heart connection. I thank you for a week that will linger on in my memory for a long time. You will become great co-workers.

It was a special group, this group of Saint Rose students. Organizing an Experience for students that are dedicated and disciplined like they were, is a piece of cake. We made this week into a week to never forget, together, with all these dedicated people from Dutch institutes, programs, hospitals, foundations.

Thank you Pirette, Toon, Grietje, Harry, Jacqueline, Klaske, Marcel, Floris, Jacco, Joep, Yvonne, Grieke and who I forgot to mention here. You gave the students a life-time-(ex)changing-experience.

For Sarah, Christine, James, Kirby, Josephine, Matthew, Grace, Joshua, Deonne, Amelia, Cara, Mr. Alexander Lawrence, Lorraine, Maureen, Richard and Abigail.

David Whyte, an Irish Poet, was invited by friends to visit a place in Ireland, called Mameen. He was so impressed. After coming home he wrote this poem in a scarce and brief moment. It’s about changing your convictions by traveling. It’s about Story Telling. Click on ‘Mameen’ and ‘meet’ David Whyte.


Be infinitesimal under that sky,  a creature even the sailing hawk misses, a wraith among the rocks where the mist parts slowly. Recall the way mere mortals are overwhelmed by circumstance, how great reputations dissolve with infirmity and how you, in particular, stand a hairsbreadth from losing everyone you hold dear.
Then, look back down the path to the north, the way you came, as if seeing your entire past and then south over the hazy blue coast, as if present to a broad future.

Recall the way you are all possibilities you can see and how you live best as an appreciator of horizons, whether you reach them or not. Admit that once you have got up from your chair and opened the door, once you have walked out into the clean air toward that edge and taken the path up high beyond the ordinary you have become the privileged and the pilgrim, the one who will tell the story and the one, coming back from the mountain, who helped to make it.

David Whyte

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