UQ Bachelor of Social Work graduand Madeline Smith puts into practice her community development skills in rural communities in Thailand.
UQ Bachelor of Social Work graduand Madeline Smith puts into practice her community development skills in rural communities in Thailand.
7 December 2012

Madeline Smith of Bulimba will graduate from The University of Queensland on Monday with a Bachelor of Social Work and an experience she will never forget.

Her final student placement saw her travel to South East Asia where she spent just over three months at a migrant school in rural Thailand gaining practical experience in the field of community development.

As an emerging social work practitioner, Madeline said this field placement was invaluable and one of those once in a lifetime opportunities.

"I was given the opportunity to develop my interpersonal and professional skills in a truly dynamic environment living and working with refugees and displaced young people from Burma," Madeline said.

"Although it was challenging at times - juggling cultural differences and dealing with confronting social inequalities - the placement was a wonderful adventure and everyday was rewarding in a different way."

Madeline said the journey was made extra special by the little things like riding her bicycle along the dirt road from the local markets.

"As I peddled over the hill there was always a spectacular view of rice paddy fields nestled between the misty mountains of Burma," she said.

"Postcard moments like these made me realise how lucky I was to experience such a unique student placement."

This enriching learning experience gave Madeline the chance to live with and learn from so many inspiring people.

"My knowledge of the political landscape in Burma has increased as well as my understanding of the role of social work in this context and the need for the international community to respond further and assist displaced people in Thailand," Madeline said.

Madeline's time spent on the border has encouraged her to look for work at home in the area of refugee resettlement.

"I'd love to develop my skills in this area and eventually head back overseas get and get more involved in international aid work with refugees," she said.

About 5700 students will graduate at the 20 graduation ceremonies being held at UQ this month.

More than 7000 UQ students will have their degrees conferred.

This graduating cohort is joining a group of more than 200,000 distinguished UQ alumni many of whom are pursuing careers around the world while choosing to stay connected with UQ.

UQ is renowned for its teaching and research excellence.

It ranks at 65 in the Times Higher Education list of the world's top 100 universities.

Details of venues and times for the UQ end-of-year graduations are available online.

Media enquiries: Madeline Smith - 0415 082 664 / 0733966629, madeline.smith1@uqconnect.edu.au or Kristen Bastian - Faculty Marketing Office, 073346 9279 or k.bastian@uq.edu.au