Columns: June 2007
As a counselor in Cambodia, Dalin Meng witnessed daily the many woes of her fellow citizens; poverty, disease, and the lingering effects of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. She recognized that more trained social workers were needed to help her country heal.
Meng is now a student at the University of Washington and part of a collaborative program between the UW School of Social Work and Cambodia’s University of Phnom Penh to create Cambodia’s first school of social work. “In Cambodia, there are no universities that teach social work, but there is a strong need for the practice and knowledge of social work,” Meng says. “Some people who survived Pol Pot’s time do not treat their children in a healthy way.”
U.S. News & World Report ranks the UW School of Social Work third out of 168 schools nationwide based on the excellence of the school’s curriculum, graduates and faculty. The school’s faculty researchers receive more external grant funding than any other school of social work in the country. Social Work faculty also have the highest publication rate in scholarly journals of any school of social work.
As a part of the program, Meng and Ly Long, a Cambodian who is interested in helping people with disabilities, entered the UW Master in Social Work (MSW) program in Seattle last fall. This coming fall, four more recruited Cambodians will enter the MSW program. All six will return to Royal University in 2008 to start the new school, where they will be instructors.
At the UW, Social Work associate professor Tracy Harachi (’86, ’88, ’91) leads the collaboration. In 2003, while she was conducting research in Cambodia, the Royal University of Phnom Penh approached her about helping to create a social work program. “The new social work department will provide opportunities for students to develop knowledge and skills to support the well-being of Cambodians,” says Harachi, who will help start the school. “We also envision that the partnership will provide opportunities for global learning for our own UW students and faculty.”
Meng, the first college graduate in her family, looks forward to expanding her understanding of social work while at the UW. “Being in Cambodia is like being a frog in a well. You see just a very small part of the sky. It’s difficult to imagine other perspectives,” she says.
Learn more about the School of Social Work’s program with Royal University of Phnom Penh.