Category Archives: Civic Engagement

Why You Should Volunteer at 8 am On Your Day Off

By: Olivia Werenski, Public Relations‘17

This past week, I received an amazing opportunity, one that is consistent with the Champlain College way and how it gives their students every opportunity available. Currently, I am enrolled in the Non Profit and Social Marketing class, taught by the wonderful Serena Mizzoni of Ashoka Ireland. However, in years before, the course was taught by Lucy Masterson, the CEO of Fundraising Ireland. This week, I volunteered for the Rise Up! National Fundraising Conference 2016 and had my thought process about non profits changed for good.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t really wanting to go. After a stressful week of final papers, housing selection, class registration for senior year, a job interview, and throwing an event for my Creative Dublin class, I had low energy and motivation. Waking up at 6 am was tough, especially when I wasn’t getting a paycheck.

When I arrived with fellow volunteers in tow, I was amazed by the hotel where it was being hosted. It smelled like fresh chocolate chip cookies and there was free food everywhere. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad here! We met up with Hermon, a coordinator for the conference and she assigned us our places and gave us some free t-shirts (always a plus).  I ended up being assigned to room 6 for the day, where I would help the presenters with anything they needed and make the lectures a smooth experience for both the participants and the speakers.

Volunteers for Fundraising Ireland

Some of the Champlain College students volunteering at the annual conference for Fundraising Ireland. Photo credit: Lilly Johnsson

The speakers were from all over the world: Scotland, London, USA, Canada, Spain and more. I was impressed with both their talent and drive to get to be where they are in their careers today. Most were CEO’s, either for large companies or owned their own companies. Hearing them speak about the psychology behind decision making and ethics behind asking for money was both interesting and thought pondering. I had come into the conference almost hating fundraising and feeling awkward in situations where I had to ask for money. Now, I see the premise behind it. Not only is it necessary to have a sustainable business, but it doesn’t always have to be this uncomfortable and pushy thing that is always the elephant in the room. These speakers made me see things from a different angle, one that was based on evidence and research instead of personal bias. Plus, I received some fantastic LinkedIn connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise gotten.

Tammy Zonker

Tammy Zonker, Founder and CEO of Fundraising Transformed, during her talk at Fundraising Ireland’s conference. Photo credit: Lilly Johnsson

Fundraising Ireland's national conference

In between talks at Fundraising Ireland’s national conference. The venue was the Hilton by DoubleTree hotel in Dublin.

All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience and resume builder and it wouldn’t have never been possible without the help of Champlain Abroad Dublin. This experience reminded me to not judge a book by it’s cover and to always take a risk, no matter how early in the morning it is.

Catch up with me on Twitter: @OWerenski

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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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Cultural Immersion through Volunteerism

Dublin is a city brimming with opportunity; and upholding Champlain Abroad’s motto to explore, immerse, and engage has proven easy and rewarding. Within one month of arriving, I was making my way to class without a worry about how to get there, being asked for directions, and claiming little corners of the city as my own. There is a familiarity to this place, and the feel of locality has made itself immortal. It goes beyond the trad sessions in pubs and classroom or group excursions; it reaches into volunteerism, as well.

I haven’t volunteered steadily anywhere since high school, but Champlain Abroad makes the chance to do so more than available and the staff are wonderful in helping students find the place for them. And there are a host of places that Champlain has worked with in the past, but there is also room to research organizations in the area! From the beginning, when looking at the list of programs Champlain suggested on the post-acceptance application, I was interested in spending a couple of hours a week at Fighting Words—and it couldn’t have been a better decision on my part to sign up.
So far, I have volunteered at three Fighting Words sessions, already looking forward to the others that lie in store for me. Co-founded by Irish author Roddy Doyle and Seán Love, Fighting Words offers free creative writing tutoring and workshops to children and young adults. They often host events in the center as well as around Ireland, and have specific times set up each day for primary and secondary school students to come in and write. On Monday afternoons, high school students from literally all over the country come for two hours, and as volunteers we sit with a group and act as a set of eyes and ears that isn’t a teacher or other authority figure.

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It Takes One to start a movement…or four dedicated young women.

If you would have asked me three weeks ago to start a campaign to empower women, I probably would have looked at you like you were crazy and said “I mean I’ll make a twitter page, but I doubt anything will happen.” Three week later, I found out just how wrong I was. For my Social & Not-for-profit Marketing class (MKT 340) , we were told by our teacher Lucy Masterson to get into a group, pick a topic, and “do something with it” When my group got our topic, which was “empowering women to have the confidence in the work place,” we all just sort of looked at each other. How in the world were we supposed to do that?! Here we were, four college girls, sitting in a class room in Champlain College’s Academic Centre in Dublin. Not a clue how we were supposed to instill confidence in women in the work place.

Liza Fowler, Rachel Hatem, Karisa Desjardins and Page Hallock - Champlain College students and founders of the Women's Empowerment Movement It Takes One.

Liza Fowler, Rachel Hatem, Karisa Desjardins and Page Hallock – Champlain College students and founders of the Women’s Empowerment Movement It Takes One. Photo Credit: Lilly Johnsson

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Service learning placement at the Separate Children's Service

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 […]

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Student Placement at the Rookery Montessori & Crèche

Education, social work, psychology, and environmental policy students at Champlain Abroad Dublin are offered the chance to take the EHS 300: Community Advocacy and Inquiry course that has a half day placement requirement as a way to connect with a community while studying in Dublin. My placement is at the Rookery Montessori & Crèche in […]

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“If You Want to Learn They Will Teach You”

My name is Samantha Hoeltge and I am Junior Social Work major at Champlain College, currently studying in Ireland with Champlain Abroad Dublin.  Being a social work student has become an enlightening experience for me, and the fact that I get to spend some of my college learning in another country is a gift.  As a […]

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