The Global Citizen Award and why you should do it by Neil McArdle – Nicaragua 2015/16

Eva Mahon, David Coyle, Luke O'Sullivan, Sara Birch, Orla Casey, Oisin Bennett, Naomi Keenan, Neil McArdle and Roseanna Shanahan received a Global Citizen Award on the 8th of April in Smock Alley.

The journey to accomplish my Global Citizen Award began following my UCDVO placement in Nicaragua in 2016. One of the pre-requisites for the G.C.A was to volunteer in my community, and as the main man Gandhi says 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.'

As a student of Linguistics, I knew this would come in the form of English language teaching. So after much deliberation and begging, I secured funding for free conversational English Classes for migrants in Dundalk. Entitled 'Fáilte Isteach', myself and ten other volunteers work with participants every week, all colors and creeds coming from every country you can imagine! Watch our promo video here. It was during these conversations with asylum seekers and economic migrants that I realized I had to document their stories. As this was all very new to me, I sought professional guidance from DCU's Veronica Crosbie (Lecturer in Intercultural Studies) and Trinity's Peter Sheekey (founder of Dublin City Intercultural Language Service) both of whom piloted a storytelling initiative with Mosney refugees called M.E.L.L.I.E. Their work is fascinating, and I suggest anyone interested in this area, contact them. 
I posed my idea to a few N.G.O's and received a welcome response from 'Third Age,' who along with the Department of Communication are launching a new initiative to get the elderly and vulnerable persons online and using computers again. Our 'Digital Storytelling' course will be running through July and August in Dundalk. Thanks to further funding by the local council this will be combined with weekend excursions to cultural/historical sites around Ireland. The stories gathered will be showcased in a photographic and multi-media exhibition in An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk from October 4th - 8th. All welcome!
 
So why would I suggest someone apply for the Global Citizen award? The criteria are designed in such a way that you must put the work in; you have to promote, you have to organize. It is also flexible enough to let you discover what aspects of volunteering you excel at and which areas in your community need addressing. There is lots of funding available for fresh ideas and eager volunteers willing to help people so don't be shy to get out there and ask!

Anyone interested in helping me in Dundalk let me know - neil.mc-ardle@ucdconnect.ie
You can read my blogs here https://neilstravelstories.wordpress.com/

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