Category Archives: Global Citizen

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

My internship opened my eyes

 BY MEGHAn Neely, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Meghan Neely Champlain Abroad Dublin Fall 2016When I signed up for an internship through Champlain Abroad Dublin, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. All I knew was that with whatever placement I was given, I would have a lot to learn. My experience interning abroad in a foreign city was guaranteed to be unlike any other position I had held in the States, and that prospect alone was about as exciting as it was terrifying. Still, I wanted to try.

Two weeks before my arrival in August, I learned that my placement would be with the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS). It seemed like an odd fit at first, placing a Professional Writing major in a nonprofit setting that didn’t exactly seem to do a lot of writing; but I wasn’t about to back out of the opportunity. After all, ICOS is there to help people, and if they were going to teach me how help other international students like myself through my writing, who was I to say no?

It’s been four months now, and I can’t even begin to express what working for ICOS has done for me. A seeming mismatch at first, I now realize that this organization was the best possible fit my writing and for myself. We needed each other, and as the semester is drawing to a close I feel happy to say that I’ve grown in ways I hadn’t previously imagined possible. I was right when I said that I would have a lot to learn, but I never could have imagined just what it was that that notion implied.

ICOS office building in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

ICOS office building in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

I feel as though I have done absolutely everything an intern could hope for. Coffee-and-copy-runs? Absolutely out of the question. ICOS had me involved from day one. I prepared orientation packets and met Irish Aid Fellowship students from countries like Vietnam, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. I designed brochures, infographics, and website content. I sat in on board meetings and helped to plan functions. The most important jobs of all, though? Those were the communication based one. Continue reading

Champlain Students taking part in Creative Minds Hackathon

BY Zach Paulsen, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17

Kelsey Hannemann (Criminal Justice’18) , Michael Roberts (Digital Forensics’18), and Tyler Bedard (Graphic Design’18) all study abroad students from Champlain College were taking part in the Creative Minds Hackathon, hosted jointly by the DCU Ryan Academy and the U.S. Embassy in Ireland. The goal of the 72-hour creative boot camp was to put hundreds of students’ and professionals’ brains together to help work towards a solution for refugee inclusion, integration and self reliance.

Hackathon 2016

Photo album from the Creative Minds Hackathon 2016, courtesy of U.S. Embassy Dublin.

“It was a pretty big draw because it is a major issue in Ireland,” Roberts says of the role that this years theme played in attracting participants. “We’re all working towards projects to help refugees, and helping asylum seekers find who they are in Ireland, and maybe find housing; find ways they can participate in the community.”

The theme itself certainly wasn’t the sole draw to this event however.

Creative Minds Hackathon

Champlain participant Kelsey Hannemann and part of her team members during the Creative Minds Hackathon

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to reach out to more people and network and that kind of thing,” Hannemann stated, in regards to her personal reason for taking part.

Bedard echoed with a similar sentiment: “we can always go to Northern Ireland again, but that’s a one-time thing.”

The event itself took place on 14th through the 16th of October, and was structured in a way that facilitated teamwork and networking the entire way. The first day of the Hackathon was spent acquainting with team members and fleshing out ideas for projects going forward.

“It was pretty much getting to meet your team and seeing where everybody’s previous skills, majors, careers, whatever, would be able to help, so you could be able to do a multiple-week project over a weekend,” Hannemann said of the workflow of Friday night. Continue reading

An Open Letter to Dublin

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

Dear Dublin,

sick mondo

When I had a fever I had to lay in my dark room with a damp towel over my forehead.

Whenever I would complain about how stubborn one of my siblings was being, my dad would always counter with a story from his childhood about my granny. When he was young it would be his job in the morning to make her a cup of coffee as he made his own breakfast, and one time, somehow, he accidentally set his toast on fire in the toaster and had to put it out with a fire extinguisher. When my granny came downstairs, she scolded him for not having her coffee ready, even while seeing him clearly in the aftermath of an actual fire. No matter how my dad explained, she wasn’t hearing it. She just wanted her coffee. The farther back in my family you go, it seems, the more and more stubborn we get. After coming to Ireland, I know without a doubt it’s the Irish in us. That’s where you come in, Dublin.

You didn’t care that I was here to have the time of my life. You didn’t care that I had invested thousands into this trip. You didn’t care that I had very different goals set, coming abroad. There were lessons you had for me to learn, and I was going to learn them, one way or another. Namely, by getting really, really sick. About 45% of my time here was spent being somehow sick. I spent more time sick here in Ireland than I’ve spent sick in the past five years, easily. I spent many days and nights staring at the ceiling and reasoning with the universe: Don’t you understand I’m supposed to be having the time of my life right now? Don’t you understand I have plans? But you were stubborn, Dublin. And you taught me to be stubborn, too.

happy mondo

The first thing I did when I got better was hop on a plane to the Happiest Place on Earth

You stubbornly made me become independent. I had no one to rely on but myself. There’s no mommy out here to nurse you back to health- you have to do it yourself. No one is obligated to take care of you, or otherwise care at all. Not to say no one cared, but you taught me self care. Self reliance. And now, self confidence that I can take care of myself. If I hadn’t spent weeks stubbornly fighting my way to good health, I never would have had the independence needed to take two trains and a bus all the way to Dingle and spend the weekend there alone. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to navigate the Paris metro system on my own.

And with the stubbornness of a group of doomed rebels rising up on Easter morning, and the stubbornness of the harps now plastered on any and everything Irish but which earlier had nearly gone extinct, I got better. I kept going to the doctor, and I kept taking my medicine, and I kept resting until I got better. And I was not derailed. I stubbornly did everything I set out to do, and did it in half the time everyone else had. Dublin, you taught me to be stubborn- and to persevere.

super happy mondo

One of my best days in Ireland was when I did the Howth cliff walk. I was afraid I would be too weak after being so sick, but I had the time of my life!

It wasn’t easy, but even so, I’m thankful for the lessons you so kindly forced down my throat, Dublin. I can practically hear your ‘I told you so’s nipping at my heels as I prepare to depart. Ireland really is a Mother. So, thank you, Dublin. It’s a little begrudging, in the same way you would hate admitting it when your mom is Absolutely Right, but there is no denying I have been changed for the better. You’re sending home a completely different person- a more stubborn, self-confident person- and I hope you’re prepared to take the blame for that!

Goodbye Dublin. I think I can take it from here.

Yours Always,

Amanda

 

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Daring David: Adventurer, Entrepreneur, and Champlain Abroad Alum

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

Since Champlain College opened its abroad campus in Dublin, in 2008, over 700 students have studied with Champlain Abroad in Ireland for a semester.  We decided to track some of them down for interviews about their experience in Dublin, and the impact that study abroad has had on their lives.

David D’Angelo

David D’Angelo is a Champlain College alumni who also studied with Champlain Abroad in Dublin

David J. D’Angelo is a Champlain College alumni from the graduating class of 2012 who has been involved in entrepreneurial projects with companies including Somu Energy, Nanosynth Materials & Sensors, Data Mural, Intellectual Asset Partners, International Rescue Committee, United Nations, US State Department, US Homeland Security, Social Enterprise Greenhouse and Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services. Currently he resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the founder of Somu Energy as well as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Intellectual Asset Partners. However, six years ago in the fall of 2010, he was just a third year Criminal Justice major from Ludlow, Massachusetts, arriving in Dublin for his first true abroad experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing David to get some insight on how studying abroad launched him into the successful life he leads today.

Q: What made you decide to go to Dublin? Did the trip live up to that expectation?

A: Early on in my undergraduate years, I felt challenged by the identity discovery process. I was pursuing a major that didn’t feel like the right fit. I was still figuring out who I was and who I aspired to be. And, at the time,  I felt like a major change, like studying abroad, might propel me into discovering more about myself and the direction I wanted to take my academics and career. This was a chance to connect the dots. It was a chance to throw myself against the vulnerability of being in a new place, in order to understand more about myself. It was an opportunity to adventure and explore and find my purpose.

A few close friends had already decided to commit to a semester abroad in Dublin. They were the ones who motivated me to seek out the experience in the first place. Without their push, I doubt I would have ever stepped foot into Ireland. And, thank god I did.

Guinness Storehouse

David D’Angelo visiting the Guinness Storehouse with friends during his study abroad semester in Dublin.

Going to Dublin was the best decision I ever made. It helped me feel comfortable when faced with the unfamiliar which later gave me the confidence to do things such as study in Thailand and launch a social venture in Nepal. Dublin was the first step of international exposure that I took, and it has since fueled my desire to see more of the world.

 

Q: What were some of your apprehensions or ‘Big Unknowns’ before you came abroad?

A: Looking back, I certainly had my apprehensions. I questioned whether I would be ready for the change. I questioned if the change was worth leaving my comfortable routine. There were people in my life that questioned the value of the experience I would have in Dublin. They would confront me and say “but why can’t you do that here in the United States?”. At the time, I couldn’t confidently convey the value, because I had never experienced it for myself. I trusted my intuition, and trusting my intuition ended up paying off in meaningful ways. You never know what it is going to be like until you get there. Now, I make sure that I always go into a new experience with optimism and trust that things are going to work out. And, usually they do. Continue reading

Traveling Alone: From Nervous Novice to Poised Professional

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

It’s coming down to the last few weeks of our semester abroad, meaning we’re all frantically trying to squeeze in as much traveling as we can and check a few more things off our bucket lists before finals hit. It’s an interesting time because by now we’ve all gotten pretty close and are accustomed to always having someone around. At the same time, with funds and time running out, we all have certain ‘Must Do’s in mind for ourselves- and those goals don’t always align with our friend’s. That is how I found myself booking a weekend on my own to the Dingle peninsula, the most western point in Ireland.

My roommates had all planned to go to Barcelona together, but I found myself less than eager to join them. I’m not a fan of hot weather- I call Burlington and Dublin home, after all!- I don’t speak Spanish, and I can’t spend more than five minutes in the sun without being burnt to a crisp. On the other hand, Dingle seemed to be calling my name, having grown up on the stories of the time my dad had spent there when he was my age. It was really hard to decide to go on my own rather than sticking with my friends, but I only had the money for about one more trip and I knew I had to see Dingle if I wanted to leave Ireland with no regrets.

So in true American fashion I set off for the West early on Friday morning, my roommates having already flown out to Barcelona the night before. It’s no easy task getting to Dingle: it took two trains and a bus, totaling about five hours travel, and I was worried about navigating so much transportation on my own. I booked my hostel before I started figuring out how to actually get there, and thank goodness I did or I might’ve backed out. It can be intimidating, navigating train stations and bus routes on your own, especially with no phone to easily look up any information needed on the spot. But the hostel was booked so I had to get there no matter what, and with some careful planning and navigation, I did.

The journey was totally worth it, by the way

The journey was totally worth it, by the way

I had stayed in hostels before on the Western Ireland trip which I was really thankful for, but even so, this was a new experience. I was in a mixed gender room with six beds, and I had been trying to reassure myself that just because it was labeled mixed and had six beds didn’t necessarily mean that six men and women would be there during my stay. However, when I walked into the room, it became quickly obvious that I was indeed getting the last bunk in a room full of men and women. That made me pretty nervous at first, and to make myself feel a little better, I ended up keeping my bag up on my bed with me when I slept at night. My hostel was definitely plenty secure, and I never felt that I was in any danger or a sketchy situation, but even so I was on my own and had to look out for myself. Little things like not leaving your phone out charging somewhere unattended or counting your money out in the open are just little actions that can help you feel more secure and guarded when you’re on your own. Continue reading

Dublin became my home away from home

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

For my entire junior year at Champlain College I was able to study in Dublin with Champlain Abroad. There were three weeks between semesters, which I spent backpacking through Italy. When I arrived back in Dublin I had the unique opportunity to see Dublin in a whole new light, different from those who arrive in Dublin the first weekend of orientation and even those who come back after spending a weekend in another European city.

Spending three weeks in a different foreign country, one where the spoken language isn’t English, showed me the real Dublin. The one I easily looked over my first semester. It’s similar to forgetting how great your hometown is. That is, until you leave it. See, when you live somewhere long enough, you become so accustomed to a routine you don’t even notice it’s a routine anymore. When you leave that routine it’s only when you come back to that routine that you realize how much you missed it.

Run in the Dark

Running a charity race through the streets of Dublin with your Champlain Abroad friends.

That’s what happened with Dublin and I. Dublin became my home away from home away from home, seeing as Burlington is my other home away from home. My actual home being Southern California.

I didn’t realize what I was missing until I actually missed it. The funny thing is everyone wanted to know how Italy was, and while, yes, it was amazing, I wanted to talk to everyone about Dublin. So let me tell you all about it.

Cobblestone Dublin

Cobblestone Streets in Dublin. Photo Credit: Dylan Helstien

Dublin is quirky and I missed it so much. The sound of horse hooves on cobblestone are a permanent subtle soundtrack and are a welcome reminder that you are no longer on American pavement. Just as crossing any street becomes a game of Frogger, seeing as no Dubliner actually waits for the crosswalk to turn green, which at first was intimidating but soon becomes a right of passage. Continue reading

P. S. I'll Miss You

Until we meet again, Dublin, I’ll be longing to return. But the memories, shaped over one hundred and seventeen days spent in the company of you and your European neighbors, will be savored for eternity. So thank you, first, for giving me only so much time.
I’ve always been aware of making each moment count; but with only so many moments allotted for me this time around, I was busier and am more satisfied with what I’ve done. Thinking back to the first few weeks of studying with Champlain Abroad Dublin, I’m often surprised to recount a trip to Cork with new friends, a jump into the Irish Sea, dinner in a refurbished church, and a ride through Phoenix Park, feeding deer. Small moments in class, and larger weekend journeys, have been fitted into every corner of my mind and collectively have formed an experience that I never realized could be so full. There is no room for me to regret not having done something. Are there things I’d still like to see? Of course. Doesn’t that just mean I’ll have to come back for you, Dublin?

Champlain Abroad Dublin students at Ballintoy Harbour in Northern Ireland

Champlain Abroad students at Ballintoy Harbor in Northern Ireland

You gave me the chance to create new, meaningful relationships, for which I will always be grateful. I joined this program knowing that I was the only student outside of Champlain College to attend this semester. A slight panic seized me the closer that my time to leave came. To me, it felt like freshman year of college, having to find my place. But I found that I blended into the group effortlessly, everyone welcoming me with open arms. Still, friends here have said that they forget I won’t be with them at school next semester. I’ve only known my forty three peers for four months, but you could tell me that I’ve known them for five years and I would believe you more. Champlain Abroad Dublin boasts a small and intimate group, and I’m proud to call myself an honorary Champlain-er. I’ve felt torn between worlds, missing my friends at Emerson while loving my new friendships. Next semester, I’ll be torn in the opposite way… But now, I have the chance to visit Burlington. And I will have times to relay to friends in Boston, while strengthening the friendships I’ve established here. Continue reading