A group of 12 students and four staff members recently traveled to Limerick, Ireland to participate in a Servant Leadership Experience. The unique, 12 day experience organized by the College of Arts and Sciences commissions students to actively engage in service by exposing them to varied cultures and communities. The vision is to develop and refine leadership skills and foster civic engagement.
All students are called to lead; in their career, family, community, among their peers, colleagues, and friends. The Servant Leadership Experience allows students the opportunity to develop leadership skills by the example of their lives in serving others. The unique programs include other experiences with Alpha Boys’ School and Orphanage in
Kingston, Jamaica; The Oglala Sioux in Pine Ridge, South Dakota and this last experience in and around Limerick, Ireland.
"Through these programs, our vision is to awaken the leadership we believe exists in each student. These programs are unique in the fact that we are not 'visitors' while participating, but active members of the societies in which we serve," said Dr. Christopher Kaiser, associate dean of the college.
"From the moment that our students are chosen to participate, they are encouraged through guest lectures, workshops and learning opportunities to begin a relationship with and around the communities they serve. The programs are often a week to 10 days and foster a greater understanding of the students' own leadership styles while taking a role in developing and leading the experience," he added.
Partnering with the Mary Immaculate College and the city of Limerick, students were immersed in community service projects, leadership workshops, and guest leader presentations. Some service activities included working with Limerick Tidy Towns and the Franciscan Friars in Moyross. The group assisted with the Soup Run for Novas Initiatives, prepping meals to feed the community, and working with the youth of Limerick individually at The Limerick Youth Service.
"We gave our time, hearts, experiences, and conversations," said Jessica Lomonaco, a senior majoring in criminal justice. "In return, we were given a real look into the soul of Limerick. The impact we had on Limerick and the impact Limerick and its people had on us feels huge."
Selling Munster Rugby wristbands in the Milk Market, students also raised 200 euros to support the Mid-West Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association. This donation thrilled the association as well as inspired students to continue similar charitable efforts upon their return to campus.
Senior Alyssa Morrissey said she will continue to offer her support and resources to the people she met in Limerick. The Elementary Special Education and English major plans to take what she learned and apply it to her own community.
"This trip helped me to solidify why I want to go into the [education] field. It has increased my passion for it as well," she explained.
As part of the program, students visited cultural and historical sites in the city and its surrounding area. This included the Hunt Museum, King John's Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and the Cliffs of Moher.
Three Servant Leadership Experiences are slated to run in 2015. Students interested in this opportunity should reach out to Dr. Christopher Kaiser, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences via e-mail email@example.com, or by phone at (973) 761-9430.
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