Jesse McKenna ’08 met many new people during her time in Galway, Ireland, but she never expected the president of the country to be one of them. While attending a conference held by Network Ireland, an organization for women in business and the arts, McKenna had the opportunity to meet Mary McAleese, the current president of Ireland, and hear her speak.
The William Smith Junior, one of 10 HWS students on the annual program, is involved in a service learning project with the Galway Rape Crisis Center. “GRCC provides counseling and support to victims of rape or sexual abuse,” said McKenna, who has spent the past semester abroad fundraising for the organization.
“Participating in this service learning program has strongly influenced my stay in Ireland,” said McKenna. “I was able to meet people whom I would otherwise not have had the chance to, and I was able to give back to the community on a regular basis.”
The Galway program emphasizes service-learning, a component created by Jane Erickson ’07 as part of a project funded by the Charles H. Salisbury International Internship Stipend. Erickson used the award as an opportunity to give back to the community, formalizing 20 placements in local service organizations in and around Galway for the students participating in the abroad program.
“These service-learning programs are an excellent example of how campus offices can work together to create these opportunities and they allow our students to get to know the local community in a different way,” said Tom D’Agostino, director of the Center for Global Education. “Galway is special.”
(Photo of President Mary McAleese courtesy of Jesse McKenna ’08.)