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Personal Background Paper

Personal Background Paper


This paper will be confidential and only the instructor will read it.

For this paper, each student should interview an older family member or someone who is able to help you explore your family’s racial, ethnic, and cultural background.  The student should ask their family member to tell them about their family history.  Where do you come from?  What are your family values? How does your family negotiate identity within multiple cultures? Do you often interact with members of other cultural groups?  What are your family’s biases about other cultural groups? Either tape record the interview or take detailed notes.

Once the interview is completed write an 8 to 10 pages, double spaced paper with 1 inch margins and 12-point font. Title page, abstract, and references are not included in the required page count.  Cite the literature you draw from using APA style (use a minimum of 5 citations).  Each page must be fully covered.  In order to protect confidentiality, use codenames for yourself and your family members.  The paper structure is outlined below. Use this outline in your paper:

a) Briefly describe how you identify yourself today and have done so at different times of your life in terms of racial background, age, social economic status, nationality, country of residence, cultural background and any information you find to be important in describing who you are (this should be 1 or 2 paragraphs).

b) Briefly describe what you know about your family’s background with special emphasis on what you learned during your interview. Compare experiences between different family generations, how your views differ or concur with your family members, and how behavior norms are taught from one generation to the next Include a graphical timeline of your racial, ethnic, and cultural heritage. (This should be 2 to 3 pages). (LINK TO TIMELINE WORKSHEET)

Your Family on the Continuum of Privilege and Oppression
This section should be the bulk of the paper.  Here you will reflect upon your family history and identify where you are located on a continuum between privilege and oppression.  In what circumstances has your family experienced privilege?  What did that feel like?  In what circumstances have you and your family experienced oppression (either being oppressed or oppressing others)?  What did that feel like? (This should be 5 to 6 pages)

This section will be a brief summary of the main things you learned about yourself and your family.  Examine the meaning of your family background to your social work practice and identify which cultural groups you know a lot about, which cultural groups you do not know much about and what types of clients you might feel comfortable and uncomfortable serving (this should be 1 to 2 pages).

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