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Visiting American students to MIC volunteered to make a difference to local community groups

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) welcomed a group of 12 students and four staff members from Seton Hall University, New Jersey last week. Their visit was organised as part of the ‘Servant Leadership’ programme. The programme, designed by MIC and Seton Hall University, was the first of its kind and offers participants opportunities to develop their leadership skills while in the service of others through volunteerism experience in various settings throughout Limerick City.

According to Holly Cowman, Director of the International Office, MIC; “The International Office took great care to organise a tailor-made programme for each member of the group, according to their interests and experience. They worked very hard and we were amazed by their energy and enthusiasm. It was an interesting experience for us to see many aspects of Limerick City from their perspective and to observe how the group made a difference to the people and communities they worked with.”

As part of their weeklong visit the students took part in placements with Limerick Youth Service, Our Lady of Lourdes Community Centre, Northside Family Resource Centre, St Patrick’s Friary in Moyross, The Butterfly Club, Rathkeale, St Gabriel’s School, Dooradoyle and Limerick Animal Welfare, Kilfinnane. They also visited Southill Area Centre and Southside Youthspace.

Seton Hall University students clean up Donnellan's Field, Kileely

Speaking about her experience on the Servant Leadership Programme in Limerick, Irina Shakarashvili, a Political Science major at Seton Hall University, said: “My ten days spent volunteering solidified amazing friendships and the experience taught me more than I could have ever given back. I will forever remember the people I worked with, especially the children of Moyross, whom I had spent most of my time with. It is a wonderful feeling to know that just by being present and listening to the children can have such a huge impact on not only the children but myself as well.’

Joseph Treanor, a History graduate at Seton Hall University, reflected: “My time in Limerick City for our servant leadership experience is one I will always remember. From the very beginning everyone was extremely welcoming, kind, and proud to show all their city had to offer. While I was able to catch some of these wonderful sights, my time here was spent servicing the needs of the city. From working nearly every night with Tidy Towns and the Novas Soup Run, to my individual service placements the Limerick Animal Welfare, Our Lady of Lourdes Community Service Group, and St Patrick's Franciscan Friary in Moyross, I will always remember my experience in Limerick as a journey of learning, leadership, friendship, beauty, but most importantly, humility and humanity.”

In the evenings the group worked with Limerick Tidy Towns and the Franciscan Friars in Moyross and helped out with the Soup Run for Novas Initiatives. They also cleaned up Donnellan’s Field in Kileely with St Munchin’s Community Centre.

The students raised €200 in aid of the Mid-West Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association, selling Munster Rugby wristbands in the Milk Market on Saturday. Gillian O’Gorman, Service Co-ordinator of the Association said “I am thrilled with their fundraising efforts as the additional support allowed for this unexpected income. Please pass on my gratitude to the group.”

As part of their itinerary they also met with key MIC personnel including Professor Michael Hayes, President of MIC; Dr Patsy Daly, Head of Department of Special Education at MIC; Professor Des McCafferty, Head of Department of Geography at MIC; as well as Cllr Kevin Sheehan, Chairperson of Limerick City and County; Deirdre Barrett of Adapt House; Dolores O’Meara and Sr Delia O’Connor of Fairtrade Limerick; and Sinéad Carey, Novas Initiatives.

Despite their busy schedule they also managed to visit the Hunt Museum, King John’s Castle, St Mary’s Cathedral, the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle.

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Mary Immaculate College, South Circular Road, Limerick, Tel: +35361 204300