Personal Stories: Empowerment and Advocacy

Sarah - Cedar Hill, Texas
Entered on May 5, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

This I believe, empowerment and advocacy, you can find this specifically in the NASW Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice, Standard 6. First and foremost I have learned in my Diverse Populations class, that everyone has a story and that story is who they are, it is their culture, their race, their sexual orientation, their religious or spiritual beliefs, their ability, and so on and so forth. By listening to each individuals story one is able to learn more about any culture than you can learn out of a book. Find value in each story because everyone has value, dignity, and worth.

By listening and valuing each individual story you are in turn empowering a person to define themselves as who they choose to be defined as. You are empowering them to tell their own story because although we are all very similar we are all special in our own unique way. An individual has power over what wish to be labeled and, can take pride in those things that they do not have as much control over being labeled. By listening one is not imposing their own personal beliefs on the individual they are able to see the individual for who they truly are.

Although listening to a personal narrative can empower an individual there are still many in this world who do not feel they have a voice. This is where I believe advocacy for others is a value that helps with understanding people. This is where one does research to become more competent in who the individual or group is. Learn to understand why the individual or group does not have a voice. Educate others to better understand this group or individual, teach acceptance and respect. If needed educate the group or individual to have a voice, to speak for themselves, to find their own dignity in worth. Always remember to respect the values of the individual or group because in silence there can be great power.

I truly believe this world can be a better place if we just learned to listen to each others stories, to learn from each others stores, to find value each others stories, and to respect each others stories. Understand why people define themselves as who they are, look deep into yourself and discover why you define yourself for who you are. Learn to lift up others empower them to tell their personal stories for that is their culture. Give voice to the silent, speak up for the oppressed, learn their story. I believe as unique and individual as we are if we can just learn to empower people for who they are and advocate for those who have no voice, this world can be a better place. This is what I have learned from my Diverse Populations class.