Nicole '15, Student Placement at Howth Road National SchoolElementary/ Childhood Education Major Dublin — Fall Semester 2013During my freshman year at Champlain College, I knew that spending a semester abroad was something that I wanted to do. For me, the main reason I wanted to study abroad in Dublin was to force myself to get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to discover more of the world than what my small town in Massachusetts had to offer. Immersing myself in a new city and culture was the best way to learn about myself and grow as an individual.
While I enjoyed all of the classes I took while in Dublin, I learned the most from my Community Advocacy and Inquiry course. Class time was devoted to discussing the different groups of people that make up the larger city of Dublin and what we can do to change the perceptions about certain groups. Discussions in class really opened my eyes to the way that the world works, and made me think twice before making judgments. In addition to the time spent in the classroom, this class gave me the opportunity to be a part of a primary school classroom in Dublin. By far, this was my favorite experience that I had my entire semester abroad.
Every Wednesday, I would take a 20 minute bus ride out to Howth Road National School in Clontarf to be a part of Ms. Gilleran's junior-senior infant class. In Ireland, a junior-senior infant class is a multi-aged, mulit-grade classroom with students from the ages of 4 ½ to 6 ½. Through my experience, I was able to compare the differences in curriculum, classroom structure and teaching methods between the United States classrooms and Ireland classrooms. I loved helping out in the classroom and teaching the young students about the differences I've noticed between my home and theirs. I felt completely welcomed into the school's community and had the best time talking with the students learning from them while they learned from me.
Attending placement in Ireland completely brought me out of my comfort zone. I saw myself learn and grow each week throughout the semester as I went from knowing nothing about schools in Ireland and being extremely self-conscious at Howth Road, to feeling confident teaching lessons and learning from my interactions with the students and teachers at the school. My experiences with my placement have greatly enhanced my view of teaching and I will definitely be taking some of the new skills I've acquired and applying them to my teaching experiences in the future.
Josh '14, Student Teacher at Mater Dei National SchoolEarly Childhood/Elementary EducationDublin — Fall Semester 2012 I remember being hesitant about going abroad to begin with. I didn't think that I would do it, until my advisor, Laurel Bongiorno, told me that I would never have this kind of opportunity again. I get to use my student loans to travel to Europe instead of thinking about all the expenses that would occur if I wanted to do this after college. She also mentioned to me the opportunities that I would have as an Education student in Dublin, and I was convinced.
While I was studying in Dublin, I took a class called Community Advocacy and Inquiry in Dublin, which studied how communities come together, how they occurred in Ireland, and what advocates of those communities can do. The class was paired with a weekly placement, and I got to work in a Primary School called Mater Dei National School every Wednesday in a first grade classroom.
The teacher I worked with, Donna McMahon, couldn't have been better to me. My first day there she welcomed me into the classroom saying that I was more than welcome to do whatever I needed to or wanted to in the class. At first I was overwhelmed with that freedom, but then I jumped right into it. I worked one-on-one with a boy during their literacy block, taught a whole-class lesson about time, and worked in small-group co-teaching blocks during their math time.
I don't think I realized how that invaluable experience changed me as a teacher until I returned home. I got to experience what it was like to live in an Irish community of inner-city kids where it seems like everyone is rooting for their success and looking out for their safety. I learned what it is like to combine the emotional discipline philosophy of the US with the direct confrontational style in a Dublin City classroom, and bring both of those back home with me in my student teaching experiences in Burlington.
By studying with Champlain Abroad Dublin, this global education with Champlain helped me to become a global teacher. I have one more experience from a totally different setting to work on my passions with. I was able to give some of my own style to Donna and her class, and I took away new ideas on what it means to be a teacher and work with kids.
Amanda '15Professional WritingDublin — Fall Semester 2013
Ireland taught me a lot about myself as a writer. I never expected the opportunities that were provided to me.
Students in the fall semester are lucky to have Dublin's Culture Fest. This event is a night dedicated to the arts, where places all around Dublin open their doors to locals and visitors. Hayley Morgan, Kevin Ngo, and myself attended a poetry reading that night. Not only were we introduced to Dublin poets, but we were also able to go up and share original work. That night, we did our first international poetry performances.
Later on in the semester, I made the suggestion of holding a Wine and Poetry night at the academic center. Students were invited to share poetry, whether it was original work or a favorite piece by someone else. We were able to connect as a group as we listened to each performance. It was a tradition held back in Burlington that I always attended. So, it felt like a little piece of home as we came together to talk and laugh over poetry.
One of my favorite events was with Steven James Smith, a local Dublin poet. Held right in the academic center, we were able to sit and listen as Steven shared his poetry. I felt a real connection with his work, since he had a very upfront and honest voice that felt similar to my own. Between each poem, he would talk to us about his inspiration and his life as a poet. He discovered poetry a little bit later in his life, but his transition from calling himself "someone who writes poetry every now and then" to a "poet" was inspirational and easy to relate to. He also incorporated some Irish poems by other authors, traditional and present day. He is the first poet I have had the opportunity to speak with and directly ask questions. Where he currently stands in his career as a poet is somewhere I would like to be someday after graduation.
However, the most important thing for me was that I never felt more inclined to write than during those four months in Dublin. The adventures through the city were constantly inspiring. I never wanted to forget, so I made sure to always write it down. My Writing in the City course with Stephen McMahon allowed me to explore topics of Dublin's history and write about it through my own perspective.
The top two poems I wrote from that course are interesting to compare side by side. The first was at the beginning of the semester and was about that moment of fear I felt...that split second where I thought I couldn't go to Dublin. The other was my final goodbye letter to Dublin and how I couldn't picture myself leaving.
Now that I am back, it all feels surreal. But I read over my Dublin writings and suddenly, the memories are vivid once more.
Kevin '14, Student Placement at The Aisling ProjectPsychology MajorDublin — Fall Semester 2013
My name is Kevin and I am a senior industrial/organizational psychology major. My original placement in the Community Advocacy and Inquiry class was with Crosscare, a program that helps refugee-seeking teens coming into Ireland without family get situated with family unifications or foster care while taking classes in math, reading/English and general life skills. Due to some scheduling conflicts, however, after two weeks, I moved onto a new placement with the Aisling Project in Ballymun. The Aisling Project is an afterschool program for students in the nearby school. The staff there help students with their homework, provide them with a healthy meal and organize fun projects and games — sometimes with the help of student volunteers. They utilize a sort of token economy to encourage good behavior among the students, using stars and bonuses. Students who collect 150 stars over a period of seven weeks are able to go on a field trip. They can earn stars for completing homework, eating their dinner, participating in the activities and general good behavior.
As a privileged student from the United States, I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to work with two different organizations that give back to the community because I believe that the impact of this type of work is meaningful and makes a profound impact on all involved. Compounded with all the other experiences Champlain Abroad Dublin has provided thus far, I feel as though my two placements have given me a much greater understanding of what it means to be Irish in Ireland and a citizen of Dublin compared to what only a single placement experience would have offered (and, obviously, no placement at all).
My trip to Ballymun took close to an hour. From my accommodations, I walked twenty minutes to the City Centre, where I caught either the 4 or 13 bus to Ballymun — about a half hour ride. The bus took me through a few architecturally variant parts of the city, and it was stunning to see the layers that make up Dublin. From the hustle and bustle of O'Connell Street through the Drumcondra area, a place that has the feeling of a quaint college town, all the way to Ballymun, an area that has seen tough times but is currently undergoing some rejuvenation. From the bus stop outside of the axis centre in Ballymun, it's about a three minute walk to the Aisling Project building.
The axis building is an art and community resource centre where events like plays, concerts and art exhibits are hosted. They offer information to a number of different resources like other services that are available in the area and even a pamphlet of the activities happening within the axis centre. There is also a café area where many people come to relax, chat with others and enjoy a meal. Upstairs, they have the works of local artists hanging on the walls and a nice dance studio.
The activities of the Aisling Project take place on the second floor of the axis building, sharing space with other programs that happen there. The students have access to a number of rooms including a dining room, two game rooms (one with two pool tables and some computers and one with an Xbox 360, PS3 and various board games), a large activity room, and a room with arts and crafts supplies.
About 25-30 students show up every Wednesday when I go. I memorized most of their names the first week, but some new faces showed up throughout my time at my student placement. It's my understanding that attending the program is not mandatory, but I'm happy that so many students show up every day (and every Wednesday that I'm there)! I spend time with the students from 2:30PM when they arrive until when the majority of them leave at 6PM. We begin with homework for the first half hour. I'm usually in the fourth class room working with students around the age of nine, and have found that helping students learn how to tell time and spells words like "awkward" is a lot of fun!
Afterward, dinner is served. Wednesdays are usually ham, mashed potatoes and vegetables, but occasionally they had lasagna, which appeared to be a favorite of many of the students! Food is provided because it may be the only nutritious hot meal the students might otherwise receive. There are also a number of times during the day that they are given snacks, as well. Stars are assigned while the students finish up dinner and eat their ice cream dessert.
Student volunteers from Dublin City University typically arrive at this point and coordinate various art-based activities for the students. They made Halloween pictures/paintings, carved pumpkins and created bird feeder art by sticking birdfeed with peanut butter onto pictures the students drew. After this, the students had time to entertain themselves by playing with the video game consoles, shooting pool, drawing and coloring pictures for contests, and attempting to teach Americans, like me, some of the Irish language! Overall, the students are energetic, hilarious, and only sometimes get into fights with each other. There is a lot of hope for these students, and I am so glad that I got to be a part of their lives for three and a half hours a week.
Nikki '13, Intern at World Trade Centre, DublinMarketingDublin — Spring Semester 2012
I decided I was going to study in Dublin before I was even enrolled in college, in fact it's one of the huge attractions I had to Champlain early on.
Travel has always been important to personal growth in my mind, and my experiences at Champlain Dublin showed me just how true this is. What I find amazing is that Champlain students always use the word "experiences" when talking about studying abroad, or really, any opportunity they have at Champlain, but it doesn't always register why this is truly extraordinary. I could talk about my amazing experiences in Dublin, like interning at the World Trade Centre, where I learned about Irish business etiquette, how to enter trade markets across the world, and write advice columns for people who inherently don't understand where I'm coming from. I could talk about the international relations class that changed my perspective and behavior as a person, forever. I could talk about working as a class to improve and advise on a non-profit organization in real time.
However, the most important takeaway from my semester abroad isn't necessarily the particular experiences I had, as they differ for every individual. Rather, what makes Champlain an incredible college is that I have experiences to talk about, and in a high-competition job interview, that is what makes all the difference between thanks for your time and when can you start.
Patrick '11Graphic Design & Digital MediaDublin — Fall Semester 2009 Studying abroad through Champlain College was an incredibly easy decision for me. The program is directly managed through the school, which makes for a unique experience and helped to relieve any anxiety I felt; my class size remained small and personal, my credits transferred without question, I was already friends with everyone attending, and the majority of teachers were currently working in the industry.
Dublin is a fantastic location for Graphic Design & Digital Media undergraduates. The culture has deep routes in art. One of my classes, "Cultural Immersion Through Fine Arts," took me to different museums every class. I really got a hands-on personal learning experience. I got to sample literature, industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, photography, painting, etc. Needless to say, I gained a lot of inspiration. The class "Snakes and Scribes" taught me valuable knowledge on how the design and advertising industries work, not just from a creative standpoint but also financially. I was challenged to produce a lot of meaningful, creative work that I still hold in my portfolio today. An experience that stands out above the rest was in my "Non-Profit Social Marketing" class. I was given the opportunity to develop and present a visual identity for the political party Fine Gael. After my presentation in front of several party members, I was able to interact and talk about my work with them directly.
Everything from the classes, faculty, and Irish way of life was a truly amazing experience. I had both a rich educational experience and an adventure of a lifetime. I was exposed to a different type of design philosophy that greatly helped my career. I would highly recommend Dublin for any GDD student.
Anna '15Writing, Literature and Publications Major, Emerson CollegeDublin — Fall Semester 2013
As a student searching for a study abroad program outside of my own Boston school last year, I was worried I wouldn't have much luck finding one that fit my personal and career goals. By some great feat, Champlain College Dublin has managed to fulfill both. When we first arrived, the staff here demanded we immerse ourselves and suck up as much culture as we could in the short span of four months. But even during school hours, the city is our classroom. The Dublin Literary Experience exposed me to what are now some of my favorite books, and Writing the City brought me to the best hidden gems of Dublin — the places the travel books don't mention but that are just as thought-provoking. I know both classes have changed me and my writing for the better.
On a more personal level, I understand now the extent to which entering a new country forces you to see everything in front of you in an entirely new light. And trust me — that is a beautiful thing. The opportunity to see Europe is right in front of me, a hop and a skip away for less money than I'd pay for a decent pair of shoes. (If you have any questions about how to get from point A to point B or where to find the best bratwurst in Germany, don't worry. The professors jump at the chance to give travel advice.) I've seen, learned, and experienced more here in Dublin and in my travels than I ever could have in America. I still have one month left but I already know I will be leaving with a hundred memories in my back pocket, and I am so thankful for all of it.
Donald '13Business AdministrationDublin — Spring Semester 2012 Before going to Dublin I had never spent as much time away from my small home-state of Vermont. However, going away is exactly what I needed to do; Ireland helped me grow both personally and professionally. Ireland helped me realize that the world is an amazing place, and it's meant for all of us to discover. From the lightly snow covered castles of the Czech Republic, to the warm and sunny beaches of Spain, my semester abroad left me with memories and friends I know I'll never forget.
Of course, I happened to learn quite a lot as well. The classroom experience in Dublin is even more hands-on and personal than it is in Burlington (almost hard to believe, but its true). With being a business student, one of the most valuable things you can do is go abroad; especially for an extended period of time.
Experiencing how companies approach and interact with consumers or even business-to-business interactions abroad vary a lot compared to what we're used to studying here in the U.S. I was able to experience this through an economic focused course that was cleverly called "The Celtic Tiger", referencing the economic powerhouse that Ireland once way. Although it's unfortunate to see the economic struggles of Ireland within the past years, it provided us with an amazing opportunity to study the economic cycle of a country and even the entire European Union.
I also was able to take one of the best classes I ever took at Champlain. The Non-Profit Marketing course with Lucy Masterson was extremely informative and entertaining. We studied the developmental stages of a Non-Profit from a marketing perspective, all-while developing a campaign for our very own non-profit. It truly was hands-on and helped me realize that I could easily see myself starting a career with a non-profit organization.
Overall, my time in Dublin and the other countries I was able to visit have become some of the most unforgettable moments of my life. It's been almost two years since I departed on my journey to Europe and I find myself realizing just how much I took away from it more and more every day.
Rebecca '15, Student Placement at Saint James' SchoolEarly Childhood/ Elementary EducationDublin, Fall Semester 2013
I have done a lot of traveling growing up, but this was my first time experiencing what the Irish culture is like. I had an extremely difficult time deciding whether or not I should go to France during my semester abroad after taking French for seven years, or if I wanted to study through Champlain's program in Dublin. As an Early Childhood/Elementary Education major, what drew me to Champlain's study abroad program instead of other foreign campuses was the placement I would have in a local Irish school through my Community Advocacy and Inquiry class.
While immersed in all things Irish for four months, I gained experience working half of the semester with kindergarteners and half with first graders. The combination of exposure to educational experiences that correlated directly with my field, as well as the global engagement within the Irish community, gave me new insight into our culturally interconnected world.
One of the strengths of Champlain's program in Ireland is the non-traditional academic experience. A unique aspect to classes at the Dublin campus is that all of my courses had field trips to local sites where we learned about Irish culture through direct experience. My Environmental Earth Science class, for instance, went to Trinity College's Geological Museum during our rock and mineral unit to travel through Ireland's geological past.
In Kelli Maoileoin's Northern Ireland History class, we spent a weekend becoming intimately familiar with the daily life of individuals who live in Shankill and the Falls, neighborhoods in Belfast built around factions from the Troubles. Prior to the trip, Kelli used storytelling to create a picture of what life was like during the Troubles in the North, a time of deep-rooted conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants. On our last day of the trip, Kelli arranged for us to hear personal stories about the conflict by listening to a veteran of the British military and a man who was once a member of the Irish Republican Army.
My take-aways are the stories, which are more powerful than one may think. The lessons I have learned through travel will permeate into the lessons of the future classrooms I will work in during the coming years.
John '13, Intern at Hireland MarketingDublin — Spring Semester 2012
Coming to Ireland, I wasn't sure of what to expect from my internship at Hireland. I had been in contact with Lucy Masterson, my internship supervisor, via email over winter break and had a general idea of what my responsibilities would be, however I was still very much unsure of what my experience at Hireland would be like. After taking a few days to settle into my new home in Dublin, I was thrust into the Hireland whirlwind and have been pleasantly busy ever since.
One of the perks of being an intern at Hireland was the fact that I was the only one. In fact, I was the only person (other than Lucy) who worked solely for Hireland; the rest of Hireland was made up of an all-star lineup of professionals in marketing, IT, public relations, non-profit fundraising, and other industries who have shared their talents to create a part time pro bono collective. Working alongside Lucy was more like having a partner than a boss and through my maturity and work ethic I earned a high level of respect and trust from her.
From my very first day on the job I was learning new things and given plenty of responsibilities. Right away I was introduced to the developers and designers behind the Hireland.ie website and walked through the process of editing and updating the various pages with the end goal of transferring the task from the developers to me. Since that day, I surprised both Lucy and myself with my ability to troubleshoot and fix minor issues that arose or apply changes to the site. In addition to updating the website, I was also responsible for monitoring Hireland's web and social media analytics accounts and manually recording data to track web traffic and trends as well as our progress towards the initial goal of securing 5,000 new job pledges by the year's end. Through the analysis of the information collected, I was able to recommend changes we could make to optimize Hireland's web properties to ensure the highest level of performance. One such example was when I compared weekly website traffic patterns for the Hireland.ie website and saw that Monday was by far the busiest day and that it would be best to engage visitors earlier in the week to reach the highest number of people, as opposed to later in the week as we had previously been doing.
My time at Hireland was not been limited to pouring over lists and graphs. I met some incredible movers and shakers of the Dublin business community and tagged along on some very interesting trips. After working with Hireland for just a matter of days, I accompanied Lucy, Michael Killeen and Kingsley Aikins on a trip to the Dublin office of advertising agency Ogilvy for a promotional photo shoot. Having the opportunity to explore the beautiful interior of the Georgian mansion was rewarding enough, but having my picture featured in a nationally distributed newspaper days later was an absolutely surreal experience.
The most exciting part of my internship at Hireland was when I was chosen to be part of a four-student task force that represented levels of education from undergraduate to doctoral candidate. We had all worked with Hireland at various points in time, so it seemed appropriate that we, students, should be the ones to represent Hireland's mission in the BBC documentary Coming Here Soon: Ireland, Lost and Leaving. Part of this documentary included a proposal to the editor of The Irish Times, where we asked for a donation of resources for a future promotional campaign. The editor not only agreed to our request for support, but also offered to donate ten times as much as we had originally requested!
My internship with Hireland was an incredible couple of months that yielded a few unforgettable experiences and introduced me to many amazing people. Overall, interning at Hireland proved to be one of my favorite parts of studying abroad in Dublin.
Laura '15Graphic Design & Digital MediaDublin — Fall Semester 2013
Since I was a young girl I had always wanted to go abroad, to see and experience cultures different from my own. The thought of going as a student studying for her professional career didn't really cross my mind until Champlain College presented a chance to go to Dublin for a semester, and suddenly it became a question of, "Well I want to go, but is this best for my education?" A few asked questions and many months later proved it was as I looked back on my experiences in Ireland, now on the precipice of returning home to the States.
As Graphic Design students, we are taught to see problems from many different angles and choose from an array of creative approaches; we are asked to think of the person on the other end as they look at our work and try to decipher it. Studying in the United States is wonderful, but studying in a culture and country familiar to you can only teach you so much about seeing a hundred different perspectives and understanding the people behind them. Dublin offered me a culture that was just different enough from my own that an entire new point of view was suddenly revealed to me, and gave me the launch point to explore and experience other European cultures at the same time.
Being at Champlain Abroad Dublin and taking the Graphic Design course called "Culture and Design" showed me a culture with a tradition deeply rooted in history and art, and presented a way of weaving the two together in a way I had not quite seen in the United States, even the simplest lines woven together came to represent a deeply embedded culture in the Irish world with a hundred different meanings in and of itself. The course offered my fellow students and I to design and complete a mural depicting old Irish legends from start to finish, giving us a chance to experience the actual process of a commission and the work put into the entire creative process on a professional level as we worked as a team, and it allowed us to immerse ourselves deeply in a new understanding of this culture as we examined their oldest myths which still shape their society today. Simultaneously, a course called "Cultural Immersion in the Fine Arts" helped me to see and explore Dublin, examining the history and world behind everything from Irish fine art to architecture to film, so that we were given a glimpse in the most basic windows of culture and helped to understand what they revealed to us.
Over the semester this world of Ireland was shown to me, my understanding guided by teachers who were born and raised there, and comparisons were drawn between this new place and the culture I had grown up with myself until an entire new way of seeing the world was given to me. As a graphic designer such ability to see and understand is crucial, and can shape us all to become wiser and more aware. To return to the States with such knowledge is not only to have a measure of culture I didn't have before, but to have a measure of my own self that I didn't have until I went abroad.
David '13, Intern at The City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee Social WorkDublin — Spring Semester 2012
My time in Dublin was truly unforgettable. There are so many opportunities for fun and personal growth there that I never would have experienced otherwise. The people I met were really friendly and hospitable and the city itself was alive with things to do and places to explore. I love architecture so it was especially cool to see the juxtaposition of modern buildings next to older historical buildings and landmarks, and I've never been to another place where you could be driving through the countryside and watch a farmer maneuvering his tractor around a 4,000 year-old monument.
The Dublin campus crew offer a lot of fun activities for students, including a hiking trip in the countryside, weekend trips to Galway on the west coast and to Belfast in Northern Ireland, a Gaelic sports day, and comedy/theater/music events around the city. I enjoyed going to the little seaside town of Howth and walking through the winding streets, browsing the local shops for trinkets and treats, and standing on the pier watching seals playing around in the water.
As a social work student, I feel very fortunate to have been able to expand my cultural understanding, which is an important aspect of the profession. I was amazed by how accomplished my professors were and the small class sizes allowed for me to get to know them well. In fact, it was their stories of their work in the UN and the guest speakers they brought in (including the ambassador to Taiwan and one of the founders of the UN Women group) that has inspired me to go into community practice social work to influence and advocate for policy that is fair and just for all.
As part of my social work program I interned with the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee where I provided individual assistance to teenage asylum seeking orphans in a life skills and math class and helped to teach the classes. I also had the opportunity to participate in a study buddy program that paired Champlain students with refugee teenagers to assist them with their high school homework. I worked one-to-one with a girl from Kenya helping her with her English homework, which was a rewarding experience in that I was able to see when something clicked for her and she became more enthusiastic in her writing.