Unique Challenges and Benefits to Volunteering in Galway

Christina Doerksen is a student at Redeemer University College and an ISA Featured Blogger. She studied abroad with ISA Service Learning in Galway, Ireland.

The opportunity to complete my service-learning program in Galway was a true blessing and a completely life changing experience. There are a lot of things that make Ireland in general and Galway specifically a truly wonderful and amazing place to have a cross cultural experience. I am about to share a few I found.

Working at Flirt FM 101.3 I was able to really dig into the current issues and concerns that face Ireland. It is easy when you live on a different continent, and across an ocean, to think that the political issues my country faces would not affect or be similar to that of Ireland. However, working in Ireland often provided me a way to approach popular political and social issues in my cultural from a completely new and different perspective. Now that I am back in Canada, I find that my worldview has broadened once again and I am better able to consider and process popular world issues.

If you happen to be working in an industry that requires you to interact with the Irish language you will soon begin to question everything you thought you knew from elementary phonics. It was a weekly and sometimes daily event that I would walk into my boss’s office and we would have Irish vocabulary lessons so I could pronounce the names and places correctly. Though this could seem like a frustrating thing, it was actually a really fun way to interact with locals and embrace the Irish culture. I often called up my friends afterwards and told them about the new words I learned. For instance, cumann na bhFear, a local organization I was talking about in a few of my shows, would be said like come-on nah var, because bh makes a v sound, except in certain situations.

This is the beginning stages of editing a segment I did on Climate Change. By the end of my service-learning experience I was performing multi-track editing with ease. A skill I never thought I would have!

The accessibility in Ireland, in terms of public transit and walking distances, far exceeds anything that I have encountered in North America, which is a huge benefit! However, there is a chance you will return back home and be frustrated with the lack or dysfunction of public transit. I find myself in this position. However, instead of being frustrated, I am using it as an opportunity to join in community discussions, and urban planning meetings that arise in my local community.

Most importantly the Irish people have a deep and rich history, and a beautiful and dynamic land, that is breathtakingly amazing to embrace.

St.PatricksDayParade’ This is a photo of St. Patrick Scaring all the snakes away in the St. Patrick’s day parade.

So whether you are a history buff, a humanitarian, a business person, an environmentalist (like me) or anything in between, you will find your worldview growing and expanding when working or studying in Ireland. It is an opportunity you do not want to miss!

These are the beautiful Cliffs of Moher, I have yet to take a picture that truly captures just how breath taking they are!

The world awaits…discover it.

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