Jane Erickson ’07 didn’t let any grass grow under her feet after graduation. Instead, she packed her bags and headed back to Galway, Ireland for a third time. She returned home on June 27, having laid the groundwork for a service-learning volunteer program for students who will participate in the Galway study abroad program this fall.
Erickson studied in Galway in the fall of 2005 and returned last summer as the recipient of a competitive Salisbury International Internship Stipend, which covered expenses for her internship with the National University of Ireland’s Community Knowledge Initiative.
It was then that she first researched and organized opportunities in service learning with the help of Tom D’Agostino, director of the Center for Global Education (CGE) at HWS, and Ave Bauder, the Colleges’ director of public service. Her work this year was supported by a grant given to the CGE to sustain service learning in its abroad programs.
“I met with all of the community organizations and assigned student placements for all 20 students, among other things. The purpose of the program is to allow students to build a better relationship with the Galway community, but more importantly, to see Galway in a light they would otherwise be unable to, says Erickson.
The 20 students were placed in about 12 different organizations around town, ranging from the Galway Rape Crisis Center, Enable Ireland, and Amnesty International, to after school programs for local children.
“We are working with four new organizations this year, and those we worked with last year are very enthusiastic about the continuing program, says Erickson.
Bauder and D’Agostino will go to Galway in the beginning of the semester to assist with a volunteer orientation, as well as to meet members of the community organizations where the students will be placed. Together with Erickson they also designed a service-learning curriculum for the students that include reading relevant material, writing reflective journals and a final paper.
“HWS has a public service minor and students who participate in service in Galway can earn credit toward their minor, so it’s really revolutionary the way we see public service abroad at the Colleges, says Erickson.
Now that she’s home, Erickson is preparing for her Fulbright Assistantship, a 10-month program to Indonesia, where she will teach English to high school students.
“I think the magnitude of what I am about to embark on is still hitting me, but I know this will be the most enriching experience of my life so far, she says of her next stage of the journey.
The photo above is Erickson in Castlebar (a town outside of Galway) in June with a former co-coworker and a friend from the CKI, where she interned as the recipient of a competitive Salisbury International Internship Stipend.