MONTH #2: DAY #32:
…so now it’s back to my second year of grad school. The war in Viet Nam was proving to be a disaster…our brave young men, from all over the country, were getting wounded or killed by the bushel and Johnson and McNamara kept sending more and more men into that endless, meaningless war… Thank goodness that most of the college students and draft age kids decided to “take to the streets” in protest to end this brutal meaningless war… one of the most radical groups was the group led by Mark Rudd, a Columbia University student. Their name was Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS for short. His group got so riled up that they decided to storm the Administration Building, and other buildings on the main campus of Columbia. They took the buildings over!…..Lucky, conservative me, was far away from all this chaos, at the beautiful Carnegie Mansion on 92nd St., far from the maddening crowd ! The school was closed down by these students, so even though we were downtown our classes were suspended too….. I watched on TV what was happening uptown at the main campus…. The cops were finally called in when the students wouldn’t budge unless their demands were met… so now we had these duty bound policemen, most of whom were the same age as the students, having to plead with, or use force to get the students out of the buildings…… I forgot how many weeks we lost but I do remember that our grades that semester were graded as just Pass or Fail….. so I received a passing grade and went into my final semester of grad school.
My field work (3 days a week) was at the largest City Project in NY, Claremont Village, located in the Bronx. I thought I grew up in a poor Italian Neighborhood in Little Italy, wow, was I surprised to see how real poor people lived. The majority ethnic group who lived in this sprawling complex of buildings was Afro-American, followed by Puerto Rican, and some Europeans & Asians, with a handful of Caucasians as well… I had an excellent professor as my instructor who put me under a “microscope” and taught me so much about how to be a compassionate and caring therapist…. I was also lucky enough to get a chance to work with clients of every ethnic group I mentioned above… I worked hard and thrived under the skillful and caring supervision I received, right up until graduation in June.
…I went through a complete transformation of who I was as a person in the two years of being “under a microscope” learning how to be a therapist… The basic core of my being was torn down and with skillful caring on the part of my professors and my two supervisors in my field work jobs, I was put back to become whole again. I felt much stronger, more confident, more sure of myself, and so happy that I met their challenge to become the best therapist I could be…. however,…..
Before my second year, I felt so torn apart between the old Italian, Catholic, “Neighborhood” Joe Mosco, and the professional therapist-person I was becoming…. I was much confused and not sure who I was as my foundation was crumbling down under the intense and honest feedback I was getting every day from my teachers…. so finally I went to my professor who was assigned to advise me and told him that I was very confused and felt that my teachers were trying to turn me into someone that I just cannot be…. “I have to be true to myself, and not be the person they want me to be”…. after a long pause…… he looked at me and said “Joe, you have it all wrong….. let me give you a good analogy, ” you came to our school like a ‘diamond in the rough,’ a diamond for sure, but like any precious diamond, all we are trying to do is to polish you as best we can so that you will be the most beautiful diamond you can be….that is all we are trying to do for you. You surely have what it takes to be one of the best social work graduates to leave Columbia and make a difference in your clients lives”. ……….. wow!….wow! & wow….. I was speechless and all I could do was burst out in tears and sob my eyes all red. In my entire life up til then, no one had ever showered such a praise like that on me!….especially not one of my teachers! I was so used to being called in school the ‘clown’ or the ‘trouble maker’ but nothing as heart warming and positive as this ! So beside my parents, my brother Anthony, Dick Howser, Roy Campanella, my wife’s sister Julia, I put my adviser, professor Hy Weiner at the top of my list of people who I want to meet in Heaven when I die. I wiped the tears from my eyes, gave professor Weiner a big bear hug and floated out of his office. ……I was made whole again and ready for my MSW degree so I can start my 39 year career as a “helper of people.”
….tomorrow I will describe my first job, which began soon after my June graduation in July,1969. Social Work counselor for the Children’s Aid Society’s East Harlem Community Center located on 102nd St. between Lexington & Park Ave. with a Puerto Rican gang called the DEMONS…… I surely jumped into my first job from the highest diving board I ever jumped off of! …………….all for the gigantic sum of $6,500 a year ! I thank God every day that my future wife Maria still wanted to marry me!
Read the next post Taking Stock Day 33.