SOWK#4: Reflection

My time at the local refugee center is coming to a close. Since January, I have been slowly but surely completing my 50-hour pre-field placement for the social work curriculum. I’ve posted about some of my experiences here and I have truly learned a lot from working with this agency.

This opportunity provided me with exactly what it was supposed to – an open door to allow me to get a taste of what a social worker can do in real life application. The MSW I worked under was an amazing role model, using a diverse skill set every day to treat clients with compassion while getting them the help they need.

Even though I know my future career might not directly involve refugees – at least not on a daily basis – this placement has allowed me to expand my cultural competency. I want to have the specialized skills needed to work with people of various cultures because the current health system is so terribly ethnocentric. To be a true patient advocate, I need to be equipped to advocate for everyone based on their own individual needs and desires.

In a cultural anthropology class I took, we discussed the difference between healing and curing from a medical anthropology perspective. Curing is the process a medical team takes to rid a person from a disease or illness. Healing is what it takes for the patient to perceive their illness as gone. These two concepts are not always the same thing.

In an ethnography called “Three Days for Weeping“, a Peruvian woman with ovarian cancer does not perceive western medical treatment as a way to heal her – even if that treatment might possibly remove the cancer. In her culture, her cancer was a demon infesting her soul, which required a spiritual ritual. This ritual did not cure her cancer, but it provided healing.

This is something I think about often and it is an important part of my personal philosophy when it comes to social work. I will be forever grateful that I got to build on those skills at the refugee center and hope that I can continue gaining experiences that allow me to grow as a future medical social worker.


Lee, Massachusetts

This weekend, I visited the town my father grew up in to spend time with my grandmother. Since she is turning 99 years old, we wanted to make sure we could celebrate together.

Lee, Massachusetts is a town that feels as if it is frozen in time. Every single summer since I was born, we have driven up there for typically a week at a time. When my cousins and I were much younger, those trips served as an annual reunion, but as schedules and lives became more complicated, visiting became independent of each family.

My grandmother’s birthday is June 11th but since this weekend was Memorial Day, it was a perfect time for us to come up. David and I spent our time extracting stories from my grandma and exploring the town of Lee.


My beautiful grandmother!


My family’s history in Lee runs very deep, tracing back to the 1800s. However, those stories shared from our matriarch will have to be for another post.

If you are ever interested in visiting Lee, or happen to be visiting one of the nearby towns – Stockbridge, Lenox, etc – here are some of the highlights (w/ pictures and captions).
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Massive tree next to the Catholic church
Spotted at Lee Library



(excuse my post-travel appearance)

This Friendlys is over 70 years old!

There is so many great spots for your dog to enjoy itself – our pup’s favorite spot was in the old farmyard next to my grandmother’s house.

Also worth knowing:

The famous artist, Norman Rockwell, was from Stockbridge, which was right outside of Lee. There are many spots in town that appeared in his paintings – and my grandfather used to be his doctor!


You can visit Joe’s Diner in Lee – the setting of this painting by Norman Rockwell!

That’s all I have to share about a few of my favorite things about Lee, Massachusetts but there are many more things that make this town so special to me. However, I will save those stories for another visit, another post.



St. Mary’s Waterfall

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is HOME.” -Gary Snyder

Hiking Adventure #1

I went hiking last week with my roommate Isabelle and her cousin Will. Since he is a Harrisonburg-native, he took us to a spot close by that rewarded us with a beautiful waterfall at the end of an hour and a half long hike.

The hike was beautiful but challenging at times. Don’t be like me and think normal sneakers and socks will suffice for a hike like this – invest in water shoes! The trail requires you to cross the river multiple times, and although my sneakers did the job, I would have much rathered to have more appropriate footwear.


We were lucky that the river was full, making the waterfall rushing and vibrant. Since we were going to be going cliff diving, knowing you were jumping into deep water made my chance of actually going through it a lot higher.

An important note, however, in regards to jumping at this site is that there isn’t a huge hole that you are jumping into. It isn’t tiny but it’s not like there is no room for error either. That said, every member of my party jumped and made it out okay, so the odds are definitely in your favor.

There are two cliffs to jump from. One is about 10-15 ft above the water and the other is around 25 ft. Isabelle and I both did one jump off the smaller one, while Will took a couple of leaps of faith off both.

I had never jumped off a cliff before, and it was both one of the most exhilarating and terrifying things I have ever done. I’m glad I got the guts to do it but I don’t think I will do it anytime soon.


I am planning on going on more hikes in the next coming weeks, so I hope to post more about the beautiful trails found in the good ol‘ Shenandoah Valley.

UPDATE: If you would like to see a video of me making the jump, check out my instagram @jemmss


My Favorite Spanish-Singing Artists

One of my favorite ways to practice Spanish is to listen to music. With a good beat and a catchy melody, vocabulary and grammar comprehension is easier to learn when paired with music.

I have a handful of artists who I listen to regularly – which I will list here:

Jessie y Joy

I LOVE THIS DUO! Their songs are soft and catchy – and they sing in perfect clarity which makes comprehension super easy. An added plus is that they actually have English versions of some of their songs, which can be helpful when translating

Some of my favorites include:

Alvaro Soler

Not only is he cute, but his songs are fun and definitely a bop. I think the key is to find songs that you really enjoy listening to because that makes studying much more fun. Sofia is definitely one of my favorites because his lyrics are so clear and easy to understand.

Some of my favorites include:

Prince Royce

If you love guitar strumming and classic sounds, these songs are awesome! I think they are super easy to listen to and easy to understand.

Some of my favorites include:


There are many more singers I listen to but those are three of my favorites. If you want to know more, let me know!



May Blog Goals

It’s been May for a couple weeks but due to the craziness that was finals week, I am only now getting a chance to jot down what I would like to accomplish in this month.

I accomplished my follower count goal for last month! And I stuck pretty well to my schedule until the end of April/beginning of May.

My goals for May are:

1. Reach 15 followers
2. Stick to posting twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays)
3. Find more blogs to follow! (any suggestions, let me know)
4. Finally accomplish some posts I’ve been wanting to do for awhile (planner tour, favorite Spanish music, etc)


Stay tuned!

My Trip to Disney

I’m back!

Disney World was unsurprisingly a wonderful experience. Even though it was only 4 days, it was the perfect amount of vacation time to re-energize before I return to JMU for the summer semester.

Here are the highlights of each day as well as my OOTDs

Day 1:
Blue knit shorts (Target) & White blouse (Garage) & Blue flannel (thrift store)

We landed early in the morning and hit Hollywood Studios later in the day. The weather was perfect and the wait times were relatively low for the most part. We hit all the major rides and attractions – like Tower of Terror and Rock n’ Roller Coaster. However, the Rock n’ Roller Coaster did require a 2-hour wait, which was less than desirable but inevitably worth it.

Day 2:
Black crop top (Garage) & Patterned shorts (boutique in the U.K,)

Animal Kingdom was next on our list and it was definitely one of my favorite days. We split the day into two parts, allowing us some time in the middle to go back to the resort. In the morning, we hit all the best rides (including the safari) and grabbed some lunch. We then went back to our Port Orleans resort and ate beignets while relaxing poolside. Later, we went back to Animal Kingdom to hit some more attractions – and ended up riding Expedition Everest a total of 7 years. For dinner, we went to the Yak & Yeti, which was absolutely delicious.

Day 3:
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White peasant shirt (Target) & vintage high-waisted shorts (Etsy)







Epcot was the day of FOOD. We got there early and enjoyed a breakfast in France of fresh bread and cheese. We hit all the best rides pretty early, but I was actually pretty disappointed my Test Track, which was one of my favorite rides when I visited Disney World previously. We had lunch in England and dinner in Mexico – which was definitely my favorite meal of the entire trip. I got these delicious fried fish tacos which were to die for.

Day 4:
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Red, white, and blue romper (Target)

Our last day was the big finale – MAGIC KINGDOM! It was so much fun and definitely had the best rides. We got there almost an hour before opening to make sure we got everything done. Our first course of action was Space Mountain, of course, which is such a cool ride. However, my favorite ride in the entirety of Disney World is Big Thunder Mountain. We ate at Chrystal Palace and got to meet the entire Pooh family too.

I will be posting more about this trip later – including more photos – so stay tuned!

Disney World Bound

First off, apologies for my lack of posts in the last week – finals is finally over and I’ll be right back on schedule!

This morning, I got on a plane to DISNEY WORLD for a fabulous 5-day adventure.

This trip is for David’s and my 3.5 year anniversary (as well as a little bit of my birthday present). I haven’t been to Disney since I was in 5th grade, so I am very excited to experience the magic again.

Here is a quick photo of what I have in my purse for this flight – wallet, boarding pass, camera, travel journal, and headphones. Of course, I had my carry on luggage as well, and I will be posting pictures of my OOTDs soon.


Stay tuned!