US students volunteer in community organisations across Limerick
Following on the success of last summer’s Servant Leadership programme, Mary Immaculate College welcomed a group of student volunteers from Seton Hall University and Gannon University in the first week of July, who spent a dedicated week volunteering in community organisations across Limerick city.
Professor Eugene Wall welcomed the group on arrival at MIC and Professor Des McCafferty presented the group with a history of the development of urban Limerick and the persistent problems of segregation and social exclusion in some Limerick communities. The group was also welcomed to Limerick by newly-appointed mayor, Councillor Liam Galvin, at City Hall and toured the city, visiting organisations committed to community development.
Throughout the week, the students worked with the Franciscan Friars at St Patrick’s Friary in Moyross, Limerick Youth Service, Northside Family Resource Centre, Novas Initiatives and the Butterfly Club in Rathkeale. The 14 students and 5 leaders were committed to serving the community and spent evenings and weekends painting at Our Lady of Lourdes Community Centre, working with Limerick Tidy Towns, Novas Initiatives soup run and fundraising for Rapecrisis Midwest.
There was time for sightseeing and some fun when the group travelled around the Burren and west Clare on the weekend, made merry at the Irish night at Bunratty Castle and feasted at the medieval banquet at Knappogue Castle! Each evening, the students reflected on their personal development as servant leaders. Disa Rollinger, an education student at Gannon University, described her experience at the Butterfly Club: “Everything about the Club, as well as everyone involved has been absolutely amazing! The experience is so inspiring and I am extremely delighted to have had this wonderful opportunity with such wonderful children and leaders”.
Participation in this programme not only had a powerful impact on the students, leaders too benefitted from the experience. Dr Andrew Caswell, Gannon University commented, “It was a real treat for me to see the growth and excitement in my students. I expected to be challenged on this trip as an educator and a leader, but I didn’t expect to be challenged as a human being. My time with the men at the shelter made me reflect on the many ways in which I have been blessed in my life and my own shortcomings in passing those blessings onto others”.
Holly Cowman, Director of the International Office at Mary Immaculate College said, “It was a pleasure to work with this group of admirable student volunteers and we hope to see the programme run again next summer”.
Student Volunteers from Seton Hall University, NJ and Gannon University, PA