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Preparing Social Workers to Serve the Growing Chinese American Population


Chinese Americans are one of the fastest growing groups in the U.S., especially in New York City. What are the major social service needs and challenges facing the growing Chinese American community? How can a new generation of social workers be better prepared to address these needs and challenges?

At 6pm on April 1st, these questions were brought to a lively discussion at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus. The event, “Serving the growing Chinese American Population: How Can Social Workers Be Better Prepared?” drew over one hundred social work students, practitioners, academicians and other professionals who are interested in supporting the Chinese American community. Six seasoned social work practitioners were on the panel. The panelists’ areas of expertise included children and families, mental health, trauma and refugees, senior services, Alzheimer’s, veteran services, and beyond. Dr. Qin Gao, PhD and Professor at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service (GSS) hosted and moderated the discussion.

Photography by Louie Lu.

Each panelist introduced their unique backgrounds and expertise and offered their insights into the challenges and needs in serving the Chinese American population. They also shared their advice on how social workers could better prepare themselves to address these needs. The panelists engaged in a dialogue with the audience on many other questions, such as how Chinese social work students could balance their language advantages and limitations in providing social services, how to better understand the help-seeking behaviors of Chinese Americans, and what social workers could do to help bridge the gap between the clients’ needs and resources. The panelists advised young social workers to step outside their “comfort zones,” advocate, and pay attention to self-care.

Photography by Louie Lu.

It’s worth noting that a number of non-Chinese participants were equally interested in these topics and passionate about working with the Chinese American population. They raised questions about how non-Chinese social workers could better understand the Chinese culture and family values. In response to these questions, the panelists shared their personal and professional experiences and provided action-oriented suggestions.

The event was made possible with support from the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program, which is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Xiaoyi Zeng
GSS Class of 2016, MSW


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