My most memorable experience during my presidency of CASW was the opportunity to represent Canada at the IFSW executive committee meetings, continuing a 20-year tradition of Canadian (and Albertan) involvement at that level. It always amazed me that members of our social work profession from so many different countries and cultures had so much in common. Of course, the opportunity to travel to many different countries was a bonus I never expected when I first entered social work in the mid-1950s. I also initiated the proposal for Canada to host the 2000 IFSW meetings.
The most intriguing visit I made was to Russia as a consultant, arriving on the very day the coup d’etat started. Moscow was pretty well shut down, with tanks in the street, and no outside communication by telephone was possible. I spent the majority of the time in the Crimea, meeting with USSR social workers and social pedagogues from across their huge country, while their children also were there in a large ocean-side permanent camp.
I was asked to talk about how our national organization was run, as they were just beginning to organize. They also hoped I could provide funding, but this was not a possibility, although I had to put up with never-ending requests while being taken to visit local tourist spots, including Yalta.
I was told after a week that a message had finally been relayed to Canada that I was not in difficulties and would return home as planned.