In 2016, Dr. Nancy Brattain Rogers of Indiana State University approached us to design a customized service learning program rooted in principles of community and Irish heritage.
Her students’ had a range of majors, from Psychology and Business to Nursing and Student Affairs, so the solution would have to satisfy several interests and skillsets.
After research and consultation with Dr. Rogers and her colleague Dr. Linda Maule Dean, Associate Professor, Political Science and Women’s Studies, we presented a plan. By partnering with Blackfriary Archaeology School in Trim, County Meath, our program would offer a two-week experience that would include several community projects to the diverse cohort from ISU.
We combined the variety of community initiatives with homestay accommodation to ensure students had diverse opportunities to contribute to, serve and feel part of the community they were helping.
The final part of the experience was choosing the excursions that would complement the pedagogical theme of the program while bringing Irish history to life.
“Our experience with Learn International was top notch. From the start Chris had a clear understanding of the principles of service learning and the objectives that we wanted to achieve during the program.
Our students worked in a nice mix of community organisations, completed a diverse mix of projects that truly benefitted the community of Trim, and had wonderful opportunities to interact with local residents.
The homestays were outstanding – definitely a highlight of the trip.
The logistics of the trip were nicely organized. Learn International provided excellent materials in advance of the trip to help our students be well-prepared. Transportation to Trim from Dublin was smooth.
The students and faculty had a wonderful experience in Ireland. We are very much looking forward to future collaborations with Learn International.”
– Dr. Nancy Brattain Rogers
Vice President of University Engagement Professor of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport
Students and faculty appreciated the variety of projects in the program; each student felt they had a placement that fit their skills and interests.
- Working on a community garden
- Working with children in the local primary school
- Working on an oral history project for visitors to Trim
- Working with the elderly
- Beautifying the town by painting a mural and cleaning up litter
- Building a dome as part of a biodiversity project
- Working on a community orchard
Students loved their tour of the historic Boyne Valley. Highlights included Newgrange; a 5000-year old passage tomb which pre-dates the Egyptian Pyramids, and the Hill of Tara; home to many pre-historic monuments and Celtic mythology.
Excursions also included a visit of the impressive Trim Castle; the largest Norman castle in Ireland and one of the most dramatic still-standing examples of a fortress on the island.
What the students learned in their own words
“This experience has revived my passion for community engagement. Through this program I have gained skills to make me a better leader, communicator, and a better server to my community.” – Olivia
“The program taught me how to lead a small discussion group, build upon previous ideas, value others’ opinions, and meet a deadline.” – Raven
“I learned how to lead many different types of people and keep calm during certain situations” – Olivia
– Team work
“I improved my communication and team work skills. I gained the skills to better handle different group dynamics and behaviors.” – Alexis
“I learned how to work around and with different cultures and their working styles.” – Tyler
“I learned how to be more independent and not be afraid to do things that are completely new” – Olivia
“This experience helps you grow as a person. I highly encourage others to do it!” – Katharine
“I learned a lot about Irish culture in my time abroad, but I learned even more about myself. This trip helped me realize how extroverted I really am! I learned I can make friends with a variety of people from all different backgrounds without too much pain or prompting.” – Raven
If you’re interested in a service learning program customized to you and your students, please get in touch.
Email: [email protected]
Ireland phone: +353 (0)45 939 773