Travel Log 15: “Serving” by Sam McGrath Cork, Ireland

During my time in Ireland I had the privilege of taking a Market Research course. The professor of this course recommended for the class to volunteer as researchers for the local Tyndall Institute’s new project as an extracurricular activity. As it was early on in the semester and I was looking to get involved with as many things as possible, this activity was quickly added to the list of activities to do. To participate I had to go to a training course that took up most of the day. In this course they explained to us the benefits of the volunteer work we would be doing and the actions to take to conduct the research properly. This in particular project conducted by the Tyndall Institute was in partnership with University College Cork and the International Energy Research Center. The surveyors were to gather locals opinions regarding participation in public issues, digital skills, and usage of public infrastructure, so to better the engagement between Cork citizens and the local government. Those who volunteered were to go into the surrounding areas of Cork County and go to door to door administering surveys to residents of the area we were assigned.

At first this made me uneasy. I knew in the United States people who came door to door were very commonly hated and treated poorly and I did not want this to happen to me for just trying to volunteer. Once the day came to go door to door my worries were washed away by the Irish kindness. Even if the resident didn’t want to participate in the survey they were all very kind in telling me no, resulting in no shouting or slamming of doors directed at me. Although they were a little taken a back that an American was administering the survey, I was still able to convey to them the benefits of participating and how better communication between the residents and the local government could benefit them.

During the many days I went out and administered the survey to my area of Cork county I was able to learn a lot more about Market Research and therefore more about my major of Marketing. I was also able to take in an area of County Cork I would have otherwise never seen, while interacting face to face with the people of that area. Through this interaction I was able to understand the Cork people a little bit better and how far their kindness could go. As it was towards the beginning of the semester that most of the surveying took place, this was the most all-encompassing interaction I had with the people of Cork. It also felt good to do my part in giving back to the community I got to call home for a few months. This experience also contributed to my addition to the class’s definition of a global community. As I interviewed each person in this community each was eager to learn more about the survey and about me. They deeply wanted to learn more about anything I could offer. That is why the my definition of a global community has changed to of all living things who make up smaller communities that are conjoined by the desire to achieve human rights and gain new knowledge.

 

http://www.ascent-network.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/tyndall_1417x472.jpg

 

Above is the symbol of the research center I volunteered at. It is a very esteemed research institute in Ireland and I was very happy to have the opportunity to give my time there. I think Slimbach explains my experience with them the best when he said “ The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society… to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships” I was definitely out of my element when I arrived in my assigned area of County Cork and got involved very much with the lives of the people in the community as I surveyed throughout their neighborhood day after day. The survey allowed an excuse for me to fully interact with people not from Cork City and allowed an exchange of information I could have never experienced otherwise.

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