A Time in Thailand Social Work Sabbatical Studies Potential Program

The bond between Walla Walla College and Thailand’s Mission College is growing closer with the possible addition of a social work program in the “Land of Smiles.”

Marja McChesney, professor of social work and field practicum coordinator, returned in late spring from a sabbatical in Thailand and immediately submitted a feasibility study on the proposed program.

“There is a great need for trained social workers in Thailand,” McChesney says. Prostitution and AIDS are widespread, and other humanitarian issues plague the area. Although many agencies provide social services, there are few people with the necessary social work skills.

“I have a personal interest in Thai people and their culture,” says McChesney, who has taught at WWC since 1989 and used to live in Indonesia, a country with roots based in Thailand.

Beyond uncovering many issues facing the Thai people, McChesney’s feasibility study touched on potential support for the new major and whether qualified faculty could be found.

Mission College is an internationally focused school with more than 950 students from 32 counties. Most classes are offered in English. A social work major at Mission College would be the only program of its kind in Southeast Asia offered in English.

If the details work according to plan, students will be able to begin social work classes there in two years.

That would enhance the collaboration between the two colleges, McChesney says. The curriculum would be based on WWC’s, so students would easily be able to transfer between the two schools, or complete a master’s degree at WWC following studies in Thailand. WWC students would also have the opportunity to participate in international field practicum opportunities, while faculty from both schools could take part in an exchange program.

September 01, 2006 / Walla Walla University