Life had just seemed to have begun and here I was looking at the future of what might possibly be me. With a bated breath I entered to begin my first sixty hours of work. I was lucky enough to meet a very cooperative and encouraging staff at the agency. Most understood that I knew almost nothing about catering to the needs of the people living in this agency.
I began by sitting with some of the residents and just conversing with them. I had been told this would be great ice-breaker and would help in making me comfortable with the people I would be working for. As I sat with them, most wanted me to know their experiences, even learn from them. They talked of an old and golden time when crime and violence were absent from the world. By sitting with these people I realized I was a good listener. I had always fit in with people my age but now I knew I could interact and speak at a scale that could be understood by people of different ages.
This conversation factor was something I used with my time at the hospital with the social worker as well. I kept the child amused and entertained which made it easier for the social worker to ask him some difficult questions.
In the Age Concern Day Care Center, I found myself afraid and lacking when it came to dealing with defeat and loss. While talking to these people I saw how much they had faced and withstood during all their years. In my quest to be the best, I had forgotten the hurdles life threw at you. I still feel myself incapable of seeing my loved ones gone but I think I am better prepared for this situation, much more so than I was before.
This inability to face pain was also a huge problem when I sat with the social worker. She knew exactly how to talk to this child without causing any recurring painful memories. I knew how to entertain the child but not how to take care of him. I had no tact or diplomacy as I blatantly showed my surprise and anger when the child spoke of some atrocities he had to face. The social worker was very balanced. She knew exactly when to stop and console the child and when to urge him to tell her more. This is a trait I want to learn: the ability to place myself in someone else's shoes allowing me to understand exactly how to react to a situation.
There are certain modes of reflection I learned from this experience. I joined my knowledge of layers of reflection to supplement this knowledge: reflection-on-experience, reflection-in-action and the internal supervisor (Gibbs, 1988).
Starting with reflection-on-experience, I had a moment with an aged woman who told me about the death of her child. Being the undiplomatic person I was, I asked her if this was hard considering the fact that she was still alive. It caused her to break into a torrent of tears. That was my fault. Of course the early death of her child would cause her sorrow. I learned that I should think before I speak instead of just blurting out my opinion.
Reflection-in-action also played a vital role in my work with the social worker. She knew how to deal tactfully but it was harder for her to relate to someone so