From global North to global South : A qualitative study about Swedish social work students' international field training in South Africa
Sammanfattning: In light of globalization, international social work from global North to global South is accelerating and the emphasis from Swedish universities on international experience among students has increased. Various scholars problematize the domination of the global North as theories and practice have historically been unquestionably transformed from so-called developed to developing countries. Since the Western knowledge can be seen as the norm worldwide, international social work practice can have a negative impact on the local people, culture and knowledge if not adapted to the local context. The aim of the study was to explore to what extent Swedish social work students are prepared for field training abroad. This by exploring Swedish social work student’s experiences of their field training in South Africa. Further, the study aim was to increase our understanding of how the background as a Swedish social work student influences the field training in South Africa. The idea of the study is also to explore how South African social welfare workers relate and conceive Swedish social work students at their social welfare organization. In order to explore this subject, the study was based on fifteen semi-structured interviews with both Swedish social work students doing field training in South Africa and South African social welfare workers supervising Swedish students. Our study reveals that Swedish students doing field training in South Africa are not prepared academically in order to conduct field training abroad. Furthermore, the students expressed that the social work education lacked in terms of support, supervision and preparations for international field training. Our result indicated that students are given a high status and are seen as professionals by South African social welfare workers. Further, this study shows an indistinct relation between who is educating and who is learning among Swedish students and South African supervisors. This as a result of the power of whiteness and the view of the student’s as professionals with valuable knowledge. Our analysis has revealed, according to postcolonial theory and the concept of white privilege, signs of a continuation of historical colonial power relations and a distinction between “we” and “them”. However, international social work is a complex phenomenon and additional research is needed to unpack this subject further.
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