Photo by Laura Saltzman.
By Laura Saltzman
I see social workers and social work as a bridge - a bridge of hope, understanding, guidance, and inspiration. I chose this symbolic picture to explain the journey both social workers and clients have to take. From the angle of this picture, the client is standing many miles from the other side. The water is dirty and dangerous, and the streets and buildings are dark and unknown on the other side. The sun creates shadows behind the client’s back, which represents the burdens they are carrying. The sun represents a new start. Naturally, if darkness is coming, a person is drawn to the light. Feeling defeated, tired, and hopeless, they come to the bridge in a last attempt to get to the other side.
The tolls represent the beginning challenges. Some clients have EZpass, which represents free services. Some clients have to pay the tolls, which represent struggles with money and insurance companies. Either way, the line can still be long, and waiting can feel like forever.
Once they are over the initial obstacles, the cars start moving, which represents progress. However, the bridge is not magical. It is rare to make it to the other side without hitting obstacles or setbacks. In time, the client will make it to the other side. The bridge does not stop abruptly and allow the cars to fall off. The bridge curves down and assists for a smooth transition into the unknown territory. There are many buildings on the other side, which represents options that were not previously provided. The light of hope on the other side helps them see the strength, self-worth, dignity, respect, competence, and fight for social justice.
Eventually, once the transition ends, the client leaves the bridge and takes the skills learned to start a new life. It may not always be easy. The sun does set for a time, but the bridge can always be found.
Laura Saltzman is a sophomore social work student at Millersville University who has a passion for social work. She plans to travel with Semester at Sea to get a better understanding of the world so she will be better equipped to write public policies further down the road.