E&H Bonner Scholar Pilots New Study Abroad Program in Ireland

Posted on: Friday, April 26th, 2013
by Brent Treash

This semester, I have served.

I have served myself by traveling to Ireland, a country I could only dream of before this experience. I have served Emory & Henry College by piloting a new program in partnership with International Partnership for Service Learning (IPSL) that incorporates service-learning into study abroad experiences. More importantly, though, I have been able to serve the Dublin, Ireland, community.

I work for Jobcare, an organization that helps unemployed people in Dublin and surrounding areas gain the skills to become employed. Jobcare helps clients help themselves by offering classes that build confidence and interview skills. As an intern, I primarily assist with day-to-day tasks, though I am trained to assist with a resource room, and I rotate among the Jobcare services.

One of the services offered is the Trasna program, which serves ex-offenders. Trasna facilitates the transition from incarceration into the community by assisting with work placements. I have been able to spearhead projects such as finding ways for the women in Trasna to have discounted childcare and conducting bi-monthly meetings to discuss what supportive services can be provided for the women in the program.

I am a part of something more than a school system here. I am a part of a community, thousands of miles away from my Emory community, and I’m still working for the same cause: I am serving humanity just as humanity serves me.

This semester, I have done a lot of research about international volunteering and found that it is not extremely popular among organizations. International service is sometimes nothing more than painting a fence, giving volunteers little connection to the community and misdirecting resources of already financially-strapped organizations. However, going through IPSL I am able to have one service site for several months and am fully able to commit myself to that project. This is not a mission trip; this is a service-oriented educational opportunity.

As a result of my service work, I know more about the world around me, more about people, cultures, and traditions that are both different from and similar to my own. I have been able to apply key Public Policy and Community Service skills in a classroom and community far from Emory & Henry College.

I have experienced what it means to be a part of a community, something I had only fully understood at Emory. I now have a global perspective on local needs and I am able to take the lessons that I have learned at Emory & Henry with me wherever my next adventure leads.