It is that time of year again! We are in the full swing of things already at campus, and I am sure many students have already been back for weeks!
I am entering into my final year for my undergrad in social work. Part of my curriculum is an internship which I have the privilege of completing at Fair Trade America. Most people turn an eyebrow when they hear that. Fair Trade? What is that? How does that relate to social work?
Most people, when they think of social workers, they think of them in a micro setting. Meaning, the professional interacting with clients, whether it be counseling, helping them find housing, social services, health care, etc. This mental picture is not wrong, however, it is not the entire picture. That is one of the things I have grown to love about social work. Not only is this a huge part of the profession, there are also two other levels, mezzo and macro.
Mezzo takes a step back and instead of looking at an individual, mezzo social work helps groups. This group could be as small as a family or as large as a school or business.
Macro social work takes an even further step back. Macro typically gets overlooked (including by myself at first) at even being “social work”. Macro social work professionals can serve in many roles. Some may decide in leadership roles in communities or organizations such as the American Red Cross, or others may work government assistance programs. This can also include advocacy, policy work, and political lobbying. Macro social work may also involve organizing community efforts, leading community development initiatives or planning interventions to reduce poverty, increase literacy or end human trafficking.
And that is where Fair Trade America comes in! Again you ask, what is it? Fair Trade is a global system, and the largest, most recognized fair trade system with more than 30 international offices.
The sad, harsh truth is that an alarming amount of our everyday products like coffee, sugar, cotton, chocolate, and more is produced through slave and child labor. Thankfully, there is already a system in place to make it easier for consumers to avoid supporting this inhumane reality-Fair Trade! When you see the Fair Trade seal on a product, you can enjoy with peace that you are supporting small farmers who are treated with respect, dignity and actually paid for their hard work.
“The benefits of Fairtrade go beyond just extra income for farmers – they also address issues like Gender Equality and Climate Change. The Standards ban Child Labor and protect Workers’ Rights. Read our case studies about how Fairtrade impacts the lives of people in farming communities around the world.”- Fair Trade America
Global social work has been such a huge passion of mine for so long, before I even realized it could be classified as “social work”! I have been an advocate for years about the truth behind our products and how we as a society can use our dollars to vote for a better world. Call me crazy, but I truly believe we as individuals have a lot of power just by choosing what products we purchase. So, next time you are grocery shopping, take a minute to think about who and what you are supporting. It takes time to make the adjustment, but once you switch to Fair Trade- you cannot go back-the quality of Fair Trade is incredible compared to conventional products!
If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out! The lovely team in DC can be reached at the info below. I also highly recommend signing up for their newsletter!
Mailing Address: 1400 Eye Street NW, Suite 425, Washington, DC 20005, USA
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- Do You Know the Difference Between Micro-, Mezzo- and Macro-Level Social Work?https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/do-you-know-the-difference-between-micro-mezzo-and-macro-level-social-work
- What is Macro Social Work?
- Who We Are
- What Is Fair Trade