Aldous Huxley once said that “experience is not what happens to you, it’s what you do with what happens to you.” Time and time again I find this sentiment to ring true. Doing my student placement at The Separated Children’s Service has reinforced this belief. The alternative school works with kids ranging from ages 12 to 17, at varying levels of academics and English literacy. My job at the center is the equivalent of being a teacher’s assistant. Once a week for five hours I work, sometimes one on one, with students to help them complete various assignments. What make this school different are the students. They are teens seeking asylum from all over the world. In my time at the school I have worked with students from 15 different countries. Some are enrolled at the center for 6 months; some are only there for a couple of weeks.
Champlain Abroad Dublin’14
Service Learning placement with the
Separate Children’s Service
Watching the teachers I work with form a curriculum for an ever-changing group of kids at all different levels of language and academics has been an incredible experience. In an environment where it becomes impossible to plan any lesson even 3 weeks in advance, it becomes vital to maintain a balance between spontaneity and routine.
The kids at the school are also inspiring. All of them are dealing with challenges that many of us will have the privilege of never having to face. Anytime I began to find the experience of studying aboard challenging I can take solace that this is all temporary for me. For these kids, the challenges are not temporary. This is their new life. All of them have lost their language and culture moving to Ireland, and yet they still come to school every day and work hard to learn.
I am very glad that I was placed at Separated Children’s Service for the duration of my study aboard experience with Champlain Abroad Dublin. It has given me the unique opportunity to see Dublin and world through the lenses of 15 different countries.
As an organization the Separated Children’s services educational department, referred to as the Refugee Access Program is unlike anything else in the country. In fact the school is the only one in the country. This is because Dublin has the country’s highest population of immigrants according to the 2011 census, at just over 88,000 people. 10% of these immigrants are student aged. The program focuses on teaching kids English, Math, and Life Skills. As I mentioned previous the turnover rate is high at the school, the goal is to integrate the students into a standard secondary school as soon as possible. The Separated Children’s Services is very centered on education, after a student has left the school, they have tutors and a drop in center available.
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2014
Champlain College, Social Work 2015