May 3, 2020 at 7:47 p.m.

The hope of longer days

Dear CSSW Community,

The days are getting longer and brighter in New York City. And the weather definitely took a turn for the better this weekend. These changes coincide with the end of spring semester classes for everyone at CSSW. I’d like to take a moment to thank you all for your remarkable flexibility and agility. I have been so deeply impressed by the accomplishments that you have achieved during a most challenging term. I will state again my tremendous admiration and great respect for: the faculty teaching in our residential program who turned on a dime and moved their courses to the online environment; CSSW’s outstanding IT and Online Campus teams who provided unparalleled support for this transition; the Residential Campus students who adapted to these changes and even advised their instructors on ways to maintain greater engagement; the Online Campus students who offered help and encouragement to their Residential Campus peers; our practicum placement partners, who demonstrated true bravery and tenacity in pursuing their work under tumultuous circumstances; and for our team of deans, associate practicum directors, and advisors who continue to support their students and one another through the ups and downs of a truly unique semester.

While all of this helps to improve our outlook, many in our community are dealing with serious issues – especially illness, loss, and uncertainty about the future. At times like this, we must focus on hope. This reminds me of a wonderful quote from Jerome Groopman:

Hope is one of our central emotions, but we are often at a loss when asked to define it. Many of us confuse hope with optimism, a prevailing attitude that “things turn out for the best.” But hope differs from optimism. Hope does not arise from being told to “Think Positively,” or from hearing an overly rosy forecast. Hope, unlike optimism, is rooted in unalloyed reality. Although there is no uniform definition of hope, I found one that seemed to capture what my patients had taught me. Hope is the elevating feeling we experience when we see – in the mind’s eye – a path to a better future. Hope acknowledges the significant obstacles and deep pitfalls along that path. True hope has no room for delusion.

I take hope from my community at CSSW. I take hope from the incredible stories of courage that I see in the news every day. I take hope from the enormous strides that social workers are making to address the massive inequalities that, in the wise words of my colleague Desmond Patton, COVID is making “hyper-visible” to everyone. There is great hope in all of this, and it is reflected in the wonderful work done by CSSW’s COVID-19 ACTION team – please be sure to keep an eye on their website for further strides forward.

With best regards and, of course, hope for our shared future –