Most students who study social welfare dream of one day becoming a social worker. Lee Su-hyun (yes, we have the same name) is someone who has made that dream come true.
Lee was a social welfare major who graduated from Kangnam University in 2010. She has since been working with the Family Welfare team at Kangnam Social Welfare Center, which is an extension of our university. Her job is to design and develop programs for children who need help. She has worked on the Happy Saturday and After School programs for elementary school students at the center. In addition, Lee performs administrative duties such as finding ways to get donations for programs.
Lee has always loved children, which made working with them a natural career decision. She says, “Each moment with the children makes my work worthwhile and, at the same time, makes me happy. However, being a social worker also has a down side.”
The history of social welfare in Korea is actually a short one. As a result, there are many areas in dire need of improvement. There are also many frustrating aspects of the social welfare field. Lee’s biggest frustrations are the “strict administrative procedures” she deals with regularly. Although an administrative system is needed for effective management, sometimes the system makes the social workers weary, which naturally has a negative effect on the people they are trying to help. Lee says, “It’s a reversal of the order of host and guest! This is a huge problem that we must solve together.”
Nevertheless, Lee says she loves her job because social workers can provide happiness to those who need help. Designing programs for children and spending time with them are the most satisfying parts of the job for social workers. Those happy moments make the administrative frustrations easier to deal with.
What does it take to be a good social worker? Lee says that first of all, social workers must love their work. Theirs is a job that cares for people in need and gives them courage. If you don’t like helping people, everyone will have a tough time. Second, social workers must be entertainers with multiple talents. During a program, Lee goes from being a teacher, to consultant, and even to mother. “We have to cultivate our abilities,” she says, “so we should be a ‘multi-man!'”
Lastly, we have to remember that social work is a specialized job. People usually think that only doctors or lawyers do specialized work. Why not social workers? Nowadays social workers are doing much more than simply helping the poor. Anyone in a community can be a beneficiary of social welfare. One should keep in mind that social workers do a specialized job that benefits your neighbors and the community.
Those of us majoring in social welfare are preparing to be social workers. It is a difficult and complex process. But with a loving heart, it’s one that will result in a fulfilling career helping others.