Category Archives: Academic

Champlain Cyber Security Students volunteered at the Zero Day Con in Dublin

3 study abroad students from Champlain College’s Computer Networking and Cyber security program spent a full Tuesday in early March as volunteers at the Zero Day Conference held at the Dublin Convention Centre. The conference aimed at giving giving strategic guidance on the opportunities and challenges facing CIOs, CISOs and senior IT executives today. Zero Day featured keynote speakers and panels offering unique insights on cybersecurity, blockchain technology, IoT security, EU GDPR and cognitive computing. The Irish organisers from cyber security firm SmartTech were very happy with our students on the day.

Zero Day Con Dublin

From Left to Right, Parker Desborough, Emily Shelton and Christopher Pickett. Champlain Cyber Security students volunteering at the Zero Day Conference in Dublin, March 2017.

 

Please see below comments from the three students.

The Zero Day Conference was a fantastic chance to see what well known computer security companies think the future will be like. The conference showed that increased automation does not have to be a bad thing for employees, a viewpoint sorely needed as artificial intelligence becomes more of a reality.” – Parker Desborough’18

It was really rewarding to be a part of Dublin’s first security conference and experience the industry from a business perspective. These kinds of opportunities are invaluable to students for networking and I really appreciated getting to participate in this event!” – Emily Shelton’18

 “Zero Day Con was a top-notch experience. The ‘who’s who’ of technology companies in Ireland were in attendance, and the organizers were very happy to welcome Champlain students as volunteers. A quote from one of the panelists has been in my head ever since: “It will cost you to implement good security practices, but it will eventually cost you more if you don’t.”  – Christopher Picket’18

You should also check out this blog post about our students volunteering at the European Cyber Threat Summit last year.

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Teaching Frost and Plath to Irish students

BY KATHRYN GESSER, SECONDARY TEACHER EDUCATION’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Kathryn Gesser'18, Education, Champlain College

This semester I was one of ten Champlain Abroad students enrolled in the Community Advocacy and Inquiry class (EHS 300) provided by Champlain Dublin’s curriculum. Part of the requirements for the class was to complete a semester-long placement in a community facility. Some students volunteered at after school programs or other youth-centered organizations. As a Secondary Education major, I was placed in Mount Temple Comprehensive school in Clontarf, Dublin (where U2 went to school) to teach three classes and help facilitate a Literary Magazine editing team of students. Though it was a requirement for both the class and my major to complete these hours of student teaching, I was able to end the semester with a feeling of not only an academic gain and added experience, but a personal accomplishment as well.

 

Mount Temple Comprehensive SchoolAfter speaking with the head of the English department at Mount Temple, I was placed with the responsibility of teaching American Poetry – Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath – to Irish students. Being two of my favorite authors, I was initially excited to hear I would be teaching their work, while at the same time, intimidated by the challenge. I was sure that, being American, these students would have high expectations of me to know all about these American poets. The task came with the added notion of their knowledge being imperative to passing the English portion of their national Certificate Exams which all but dictated what colleges they’d be accepted into. The concept of these exams was brand new to me upon my joining the Mount Temple community. I must have spent an entire weekend in Starbucks going over lesson plans and analyzing poetry.

On my first day, I was introduced to many of the teachers in the English and Language Arts department. They gave me a true Irish Welcome, which I’ve learned by now includes many smiles, an offer of Tea, food or sweets of some sort, and a “You’re very welcome here!” The students, to my happy surprise, were just as warm and welcoming. They were genuinely interested in where I was from as soon as they heard my accent. I told them about myself and what we’d be doing for the next few weeks together, looking over poets, getting them ready for their exams at the end of the school year.

In the following weeks after that first day, I began to look forward to my early Wednesday mornings at Mount Temple. It was even a relief to me when the weekend came, not only because it was a small break from my own classes, but because I knew I’d once again be able to sit in one of the many amazing Dublin cafes and plan the lesson for the coming week. I thought to myself several times, ‘Can I really be having so much fun doing this? Isn’t this supposed to be my actual job someday?’ I was presented with a new perspective on what it could actually feel like to live each day in my career field of choice.

Mount Temple Comprehensive SchoolAfter looking back at my time in Clontarf, I am now also able to look forward on my future with less wincing and churning in my stomach at the sheer inevitability and closeness of next year’s graduation date. I have a better idea, thanks to my experience at Mount Temple, of what I’d like to do as a next step: continue my schooling and work with students who wish to be writers, in a college setting. This was a conclusion I may not have come to as easily, or at least not have had so much fun coming to it, had I not decided to study abroad in Dublin this semester. It made the trip over the ocean worthwhile, and I would recommend the class to any future study abroad students who are looking for a way to get fully immersed in the surrounding community of Dublin.

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A time to reflect: EHS placement Dublin

BY blair thompson’18, psychology, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Working at Island Key’s Co-operative Childcare in the Docklands

Blair Thompson - Champlain Abroad DublinAs a psychology major, I’m part of Champlain College’s EHS division. Dublin’s EHS course for this semester of junior year entailed getting a placement as a volunteer in a workplace that relates to our soon-to-be bachelors degree. I started working every Wednesday at the Island Key’s co-operative childcare program. This program is part of a government organization for subsidized housing, for people and families of low income. Many of the people living there are actually immigrants from places like Lithuania and Poland, although many are still local Irish who have lived in the Docklands their whole life. The Docklands used to be a working class neighborhood where many manual laborers were employed working on the docks, hence the name of the district.

There was a period of industrialization that started replacing workers with machines which could get the job done faster. These workers became unemployed, thus turning the Docklands into a rather rough neighborhood, full of unemployed people who could no longer afford homes, and the school dropout rates rapidly increased. Any time I mentioned to an Irish person that I worked in the Docklands, I got the same uneasy reaction. I remember specifically one taxi driver telling me how it’s getting better now (due to these government organizations like affordable housing and childcare), but a few years back if you were an outsider walking down the street, “you’d find yourself naked before you even knew what happened”. The taxi driver was inferring by this that the people who lived there had a reputation for being really tough, and would steal literally everything from you, even your shoes….although the naked part was definitely an exaggeration.

I grew so much from working at my placement for the whole four months of my semester in Dublin. Let’s just start with the fact that it was an hour walk to work from the apartments, and an hour and a half walk from school. I had no choice but to take the dreaded and slightly feared public bus. I don’t know if anyone can relate, but back home in Connecticut any time I took the public bus it would end up turning into a fiasco. Whether it was going to different stops than I expected, resulting in me getting very very lost…in the rain. Or maybe anyone, male or female, can relate to some pretty creepy bus riders that try to start weird conversations and follow you off the bus. Let’s also not forget the grandpa-aged men asking for your phone number. So I was really stressed about how the heck I was going to make it to work every week. I many times would walk (note to future volunteers: never forget your umbrella), which

I actually really enjoyed because passing familiar faces and coffee shops after a while of the same routine became quite endearing and sweet. It was kind of a homey feeling, when I would pass business men and women living completely different lives, but still sharing a slice of our lives in common. After a while of recognizing one another, we would give each other a friendly nod, which is just one of those “it’s the little things” moments that makes me happy. Also as a side note, adopting some of the Irish ways while abroad can totally make one gain some weight, so that little time of exercise really pays off. Exercising also produces happy hormones, like dopamine, which is a nice way to de-stress.

So, after the first few work days I got in the routine of getting to work without getting lost. I even became confident enough to take the bus when I felt like it, which turned out to be a completely positive experience. Shockingly enough the bus routes turned out to really not be that complicated after all. If you can look at the bus route diagram while simultaneously finding those stops on your google maps, you’re good to go.
Now that half the battle of getting there was checked off the to-do list, It was time to finally start work. I was put in the classroom with the toddlers, where they can always use an extra hand. One minute you see them, the next they’re in corner…covering themselves with paint or something similarly inconvenient. About half of the toddlers first language was not english, even though they were just developing speech. This was interesting from a psychological perspective to observe how they found ways to work around the language barriers in order to communicate what they wanted or understand what we were saying to them. One really cute little boy in my classroom was from Romania and I watched him learn two languages at once. After being with the toddlers for a bit, I decided I wanted to try working with the older kids. I’ve worked as a pre-school teacher for younger ages before in previous jobs back in America, so wanted to try something new and get out of my comfort zone a little bit.

I started working from 1:30 in the afternoon, to 5:30, and i’m totally guilty of waking up right before then on those days. The kids were ages 6 to 9 and some parts of being a teacher in that classroom were actually more difficult than being with the toddlers. The kids and I spoke the same language, English…but it didn’t really feel that way at all. The Irish accent is so strong that sometimes I couldn’t even understand what they were saying, let alone the slang made things impossible. Slowly but surely I got used to the different words and phrases they used, and could finally understand them. They definitely thought I was an idiot from time to time when I couldn’t understand things they thought were so simple. I remember helping them with their homework and one little girl asking me how to spell something. I told her the American spelling but she was used to the British way, and she realized it was “wrong”. She definitely didn’t ask me for help on her homework for a while after that. Eventually she came around, but she had me prove my intelligence first! (P.s. A tip for any education majors coming over: they call a period “.” a full stop). Continue reading

Buckle up and come along on the Zach Paulsen Study Abroad Experience

BY Zach Paulsen, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17

Hey everybody. Looks like I’m your digital Study Abroad Tour Guide for the semester. ‘Cause you know what they say, if you don’t write for a study abroad blog at least once in your life, you’re not living.

To all you youngsters eagerly awaiting the Spring so you too can go abroad, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to have you live vicariously through me. And to all you worried/anxious/jealous parents out there, I suppose there’s room to let you live vicariously through me too.

While we wait, seeing as I have had a month to take it all in and be a tourist in my own right, I should brief you on a few noteworthy things I’ve experienced thus far:

    • A handful of us stumbled upon the Pigeon Whisperer in St. Stephen’s Green.
    • I have hiked around the town of Howth.
    • We have experienced Gaelic Sports (I am very bad at Hurling).
    • We have gone on a trip to the West of Ireland to visit the Cliffs of Moher, the town of Doolin, the island of Inis Oirr, and the town of Galway. Oh, and we got to meet sheepdog puppies
    celtic-cross

    Celtic Cross at Corcomroe Abbey

    shipwreck

    Champlain Abroad student Laura Anderson atop an Inis Oirr shipwreck.

    Well, the time has come, so buckle up, newfound friends o’ mine. It’s time to delve into the patented Zach Paulsen Study Abroad Experience™.

    A brief little background about me: I made the trip to Dublin via a twelve hour plane ride from Seattle, where I’m from. Being from the West Coast, I’m not exactly used to living in a very history-oriented culture. In fact, even when I came to New England, it took me a while to appreciate the fact that I was eating at restaurants that were established before 1970.

    Ireland, obviously, is older still but the island’s rich history is infused in the modern culture in ways that are much deeper than what we experience back in the States. Continue reading

    Artists at Work: an Urban Expo

    By: Sarah Wilkinson, ’17 // Professional Writing

    Clouds were spitting rain on us and the air smelled of warm cheese from the renovated pizza bus resting on flat tires along the back wall. Smoke from clove cigarettes drifted through the air, coiling around the art on the walls that were dizzy with color and pattern. My classmates and I walked frenzied circles across the concrete floor, sticky with yesterday’s spilled pints, checking items off our to-do list.

    • Graffiti artists contacted and confirmed
    • Interviews with the press done
    • Musicians setting up their equipment for sound check
    • Back wall painted black and sectioned off with tape
    • Canvases set up by the windows
    • Spirits high and smiles on

    We’d been preparing for this night of live graffiti art and musical performance for the past nine weeks as part of our Creative Dublin class. The whole idea was to get all twelve of us involved in the creative scene around Dublin, a city that sprawls up, down, and out, holding artistic treasures and secrets everywhere you look. After all those weeks of planning and sending emails and wondering, “Can we actually pull this off??” we were in our first-choice venue, the Bernard Shaw, and we were pulling it off.

    Artists at work - waiting for folks

    Sarah Wilkinson (Professional Writing’17), Cynthia Anderson (Professional Writing’17) and Callie Browning (International Business’17) ready at the ticket desk

    It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, however. For all the obstacles we had to jump (and fall) over, we still managed to have a solid lineup of artists and musicians, the latter with the help of Dublin City Buskers, an organization advocating for the rights of street performers. Our event’s Facebook page was the place to be in the cyber world, and hours before the event we had over 1,000 people committed to coming and some 4,000 people interested. We were expecting either no one, or for everyone and their second cousin’s in-laws to show up.

    One by one, all eight of our graffiti artists arrived sporting bright red dreadlocks and other funky hairdos, tattoos on their arms, and cans of spray paint stowed in their backpacks. Each and every one of them smiled and thanked us as we helped them set up their paint stations for the night. Some artists were painting on over-sized canvases, and others were working on the giant concrete wall out back that we’d painted black for the occasion. The smell of spray paint wasn’t as overwhelming as you might have expected when they all began, arms moving in a flurry over lines and circles that slowly began to morph into pictures. Continue reading

    Because Dublin Isn't All Fun And Drinking

    Olivia Werenski, Public Relations’17

    This semester, like I have mentioned before, was one that I wasn’t sure I was prepared for. The hardest part (besides actually getting there), I assumed would be the classes. While school hasn’t ever been hard for me (well, except math), I feared that the combination of schoolwork mixed with being in another country would concoct the perfect potion of stress and anxiety.

    Champlain College Dublin Building

    It’s sometimes hard to study when your school building is so beautiful

    When you apply to Champlain Abroad Dublin, you actually chose classes in the application. This made me very excited! The time spent flipping through the pages of the course catalog and imaging sitting learning about Irish art and literature made everything feel exciting and real and most importantly, raw. This was real, I was really going to go to school in another country and learn about their culture and history and ways of living first hand.

    Now that I am here, classes are even better than I expected. I’m taking 5 classes: Creative Dublin, Dublin Literary Experience, Environmental Earth Science, Non Profit and Social Marketing, and Writing The City. Each course involves in class and out of class elements so students get a hands-on approach to their learning and really feel immersed in the culture of Dublin. This was a nice change of pace, as I’ve learned that I learn the best by doing and practicing, rather than listening to a lecture.

    Recently, in Non Profit and Social Marketing class, my teacher Serena Mizzoni, took us on a field trip to Kilbarrack fire station and learned about Neil McCabe, the creator and chief executive officer of The GreenPlan©. Neil is an entrepreneur and fireman who turned his rundown and out of date building into a functioning, modern and cost effective “green” station where employee morale was at an all time high. It was really fantastic to see the concepts that we were learning in class applied to a real person and a real life situation. Neil impressed me not only with his wit and sense of humor but intelligence and passion for sustainability. You can read more about Neil and the GreenPlan in this recent article published in the Irish Times on February 22nd: https://www.irishtimes.com/sponsored/it-s-good-to-be-green-1.2541211

    The teachers are amazing here as well. All of my teachers are Irish and know a lot about Dublin as a city and as a group of people. The culture and the history that I have experienced while here in my classes has been something I most likely would not have gotten if just on my own. The spirit of immersion and background knowledge they bring to the table has given me a fresh perspective on the Irish culture. Besides being great teachers, a few of them have even become friends of mine and are a good source of advice for traveling as well!

    I wouldn’t change a thing about living and attending school here. While still being challenging at times, for the most part everything has been smooth sailing academically. I feel comfortable yet challenged in all my classes and have faith that I will be learning new skills that I can take home with me and re-purpose in other classes. It’s still the same Champlain dynamic I’ve always admired about the school. I urge everyone to find a place where you feel comfortable yet pushed at the same time to be the best version of yourself. I’m so glad I’ve found mine.
    Until next time!

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    APPLY NOW TO STUDY ABROAD WITH CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE!

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    Making Music: The Academic Experience I Never Expected

    By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

    Let’s be honest for a minute: when it comes to the process of preparing for a semester in Dublin, our courses are likely not in the top ten things on our mind. Amidst all the charms of being in a new foreign city, meeting new friends, and figuring out all our travel adventures, it’s easy to feel like our academics might end up taking the backburner. It can sometimes be rumored that study abroad is like a vacation: yes you’re taking classes, but those are in the background compared to the rest of your experience. However, in my time here I have learned that this is definitely NOT the case!

    When I was signing up for my Champlain Abroad Dublin classes all the course descriptions sounded interesting enough, a little plain, and besides filling credit requirements I didn’t put a huge amount of thought into what I joined. The Cultural Immersion Through Music course, for example, sounded like a pretty calm lecture where we’d listen to a lot of Irish music recordings and do some readings. I thought, ‘Well, I like music…,’ checked off the box, and didn’t think much more of it until I got the textbook requirements sheet for my classes, months later. Under this class it simply said: “No textbook required, but students must have 30 euro to purchase a tin whistle and hand drum.” All I could think was, what have I gotten myself into!

    Fast forward a handful of weeks and I’m stretching dried goat skin over a wooden frame I hand-painted to build my very own bodhrán, a traditional Irish hand drum. This class, like all my courses here in Dublin, has completely blown me away with how interesting and hands-on it is. I’m not just listening to music: I’m singing it, I’m playing it on a huge variety of instruments, I’m taking field trips to watch it be performed, I’m analyzing its lyrics both in English and in Irish- it truly lives up to the course title, cultural immersion through music.

    Cultural Immersion Through Music

    Champlain Abroad Dublin students crafting their own Bodhrán, a traditional Irish hand drum in the Cultural Immersion through Music class

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    Urban Expression – Innovative Cultural Immersion

    Imagine walking into your first day of class, in a new country and your professor tells you that in just 14 quick weeks you’ll be putting on an event in Dublin. That’s exactly what happened to me and my fellow classmates. Fast forward to the end of November and we can now reflect on that same task and proudly say, “we did it!”

    This semester, Champlain Abroad Dublin‘s Creative Dublin class was given the daunting- yet delightful- challenge of putting together an arts event from start to finish. This project was undoubtedly, one of the most in-depth and hands-on projects any of us have ever done at Champlain College thus far. During one of our first classes we split into two groups. Each group talked about what their ideal event would look like. Then, we came together as one and discussed how to combine all of our ideas into one seamless event. After that, we hit the ground running.

    Urban Expression

    We decided we wanted slam poetry, music and an art gallery. To effectively achieve this, we came up with the idea of Urban Expression;  a one-night event that highlighted the paths we have taken to get to where we are today. Through photography, visual art, slam poetry and music our aim was to show that each individual is on a unique journey. We made sure the event was free and filled with  both American and Irish artists and fellow Champlain students. We even managed to snag one of Dublin’s biggest graffiti artists to do a live piece. Continue reading

    Exploring Ireland's History

    One of the classes that I have been taking during my semester abroad with Champlain Abroad Dublin is called Early Irish History, taught by archaeologist Naill Colfer. We’ve been exploring Ireland’s past all semester and recently took a trip to the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford. Here we actually got the chance to see reconstructions of many of the things we’ve discussed in class!

    The first thing we got to see on the tour was a Mesolithic house, used when people first came to Ireland, around 8000 BC, and lived as hunters and gatherers. Later on, the people adopted the practice of farming during the Neolithic era. We got to see examples of these sorts of houses as well and a reconstruction of a tomb from the time. When I visited the Burren in the west of Ireland I got to see an actual tomb from this period too!

    Neolithic tomb at the Irish National Heritage Park

    Poulnabrone dolmen is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland

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    The Art of Time Management

    The time is now, the week is here: midterms. Exams abound, and essay assignments never seem to stop coming. As a third-year college student, this isn’t my first tango with that dreaded M-word. As someone who is studying abroad, though—yes, the study is a key factor here—it proves a bit more challenging.
    My workload has been very manageable, but in the last few weeks my assignments have been piling up and led to some initial stress. It’s not a secret, but practicing time management is so, so important: especially while living in another country, where the world is your oyster and there is endless life pulling you in all directions. Like I said, it’s not a new development: but polishing up this habit will combat stress and leave ample time for immersion! I haven’t perfected my formula, but what I’ve been doing to date has worked swimmingly.

    1. Make a list.
    I haven’t gotten a formal planner while here, but I do have a notebook where, each week, I make a to-do list and organize it into sections of classwork, events to sign up for, papers to print, and miscellaneous things to take care of. It’s also best, for me, to write everything in order of importance. Paper due in four days? Starred at the top. Reading for class next week? Listed towards the bottom, below the upcoming assignments needing to be taken care of first. It’s a good visual of what needs to get done when. And sometimes I start from the bottom of the list and work my way up, to be able to cross a few minor tasks off. Really, a day for me can’t begin until I know what needs to be done when. Continue reading