Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Celebration of effort and progress in service

Today was the "graduation" for those students in NUI Galway who have participated in the ALIVE programme. As mentioned earlier, this scheme recognises students who have engaged in voluntary activity either on campus or in the wider community. Some 300 students received certificates at the ceremony and over a hundred more will be similarly honoured before the academic year ends. This is a great achievement for a project which began a couple of years ago with a pilot group of 22 students.

A number of short speeches were made and music and food was provided for all participants including representatives of a wide variety of community organisations. A very enjoyable session and I'd like to pass on my own appreciation to the students for their efforts and for the rest of the team behind the Community Knowledge Initiative for coordinating the whole programme.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, we'll be hosting a conference on Occupational Therapy (OT) in the West of Ireland, coordinated and presented by students from the university who have just completed detailed service learning projects in exploring the OT needs of a variety of community and minority groups. The event has already received coverage in the Health Section of Today's Irish Times.

On Thursday and Friday of this week, we will be facilitating a national event on Service Learning, (1,2) Ireland's first "Service Learning Academy" at which around 60 invited participants from a wide range of higher education organisations will "brainstorm" the issues around implementing service learning in higher education, hopefully emerging from the process with an enriched understanding as well as a possible set of goals and achievable intentions. Facilitators from outwith Galway include Andrew Furco (3) and Marshall Welch (4).

All in all, a busy week for CKI, but a sign of the momentum that is building behind this strategically important initiative.

(1) http://www.servicelearning.org/welcome_to_service-learning/index.php
(2) http://www.compact.org/initiatives/service_learning
(3) http://www.compact.org/faculty/scholars/furco.html
(4) http://www.honors.utah.edu/faculty-profile-112.html

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