Social Work Students Prepare for Fieldwork in Malmö Sweden


Tracy Backstrom

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


It isn’t often a student travels over 4,000 miles to complete an internship. But that’s exactly what Bailey Kitko and Bridget Hill are doing.

On a recent warm summer day, Bailey and Bridget made their way to the Kenneth Dawes Conference Room in Gillette Hall at UND to meet with several of their professors and advisors for an official orientation to their Study Abroad Block Field Internship in Malmö Sweden. This innovative program has been made possible through a bilateral agreement and Memo of Understanding (MOU) with Malmö University put in place in January 2016 after a year of hard work and coordination by the Social Work faculty team. The agreement encompasses four options: Study Abroad Internship, two-week Study Abroad Policy Course in February 2017, traditional 20-week semester exchange in Fall 2017, and hosting of Swedish students for campus-based classes or volunteering at local community-based agencies. Additionally, faculty are exploring joint grant opportunities, and Dr. Jonas Christensen, International Coordinator for Malmö University’s Social Work Department, who visited UND last March, plans to return to teach and conduct comparative research in partnership with department faculty during the upcoming Spring Semester.

During their internship, both Bailey and Bridget will be working with migrant/refugee populations in Malmö. Bailey, a BSSW student, will be working with migrant adolescent youth who entered Sweden unattended. Bridget, a MSW student, will be working with migrant people who have found themselves homeless when their plans to find employment in Sweden have not materialized.

Joining the orientation team remotely from Norway, Melissa Gjellstad, UND Associate Professor of Norwegian, helped answer many of Bailey and Bridget’s questions about living and working in Sweden. The orientation covered everything from safety and comportment to money and sightseeing, from practical preparations to combating fatigue and homesickness. Emily Dougherty, UND Education Abroad Program Manager, presented the students with tips and resources to help make their stay in Malmö successful and safe.

Additional advice was offered from faculty members Dr. Bret Weber and Dr. Dheeshana Jayasundara, whose travels to Malmö and previous field experiences provided direction and helpful hints for managing the adventure ahead. Dr. Jayasundara will act as the students’ Field Liaison over the course of their internships, and will be in regular contact with both students while they are in Sweden. The orientation concluded with Social Work Director of Field Education Bruce Reeves reviewing the paperwork, deadlines and education requirements that Bailey and Bridget will be responsible for during their internships.

The faculty of the Social Work Department are excited to offer this opportunity to their students and believe that the relationship with Malmö University will enhance the Department’s mission to advance knowledge and learning and to prepare competent, responsive, and ethical social workers who empower vulnerable populations, promote social justice, and are committed to serving diverse populations. Department Chair Dr. Carenlee Barkdull expressed appreciation for Malmö University faculty, especially Dr. Jonas Christensen, who have gone “above and beyond” to support Bridget and Bailey in securing internships this Fall, and for providing orientation and supports to them while they are in Sweden. Dr. Barkdull notes, “Internationalization is one of our department’s strategic initiatives. We are so proud of this partnership, which adds another unique tool for preparing social workers for practice in an increasingly global, diverse world.”