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Journals from National University of Ireland, Galway

2009-04-30 Volunteering for Literature

Before coming to NUIG, I was aware of volunteer programs made through the university. I figured I would be involved and volunteer"just as I would at home, but once I was a student I never felt like I had the availability to volunteer. At home, Id help at the community garden and mentor a middle school student, and help with the odd project here and there. Once all my classes and essays were over, I knew Id need something to entertain me"all of my peers were still studying for exams and I wasnt particularly interested in traveling on my own, so Id need to wait for them to finish. So, duuring my first week off, I finally got a chance to volunteer. Galway hosts a weeklong event called Cirt International Festival of Literature. Its so great! My job was to take tickets, help the guests find their seats and help with the queues when the authors were signing books. I got to sit in and listen to several speakers and I even had a couple books signed! Yay! Most of the readers were new to me, so Im glad that I got to be introduced to new writers. I guess the whole point of this blog is to note that just because Im abroad doesnt mean that Im not interested in volunteering. And just because Im finished with classes doesnt mean that I need to be traveling all through Europe to entertain myself. I know that I am in Ireland and its so close to Europe, but I have other priorities that make me feel like my time here has been absolutely satisfying. I made a few friends while volunteering and I was able to talk about American culture with them. They were interested in what real America was like. All we know is what we see in the films. I explained suburbia and said that the film Juno probably depicted a pretty accurate picture of it" I hope my example is accurate. One guy asked me, Now tell me, whats a bigger holiday"Christmas or Thanksgiving? Ive heard that Thanksgivings more important. I told him, Christmas is the more important holiday, but if youre thinking about the significance of food, Thanksgiving is much better. Its all about the food. And being thankful, of course. Everyones curious about America"especially considering how large a country is. Its a great conversation topic, but always make sure to ask questions about the Irish culture, too. My friends are almost done (5 May and theyre free from exams and essays!) so Ill be traveling soon. Im going to Kilkenny (southeast Ireland), Belfast, Northern Ireland, Frankfurt, Germany, and the Aran Islands (fingers crossed for sunny weather.) Lots of love, Sam Jordan P.S. I have only one month left and I don't want to leave. I feel this awful urgency to do as much as possible here, or that I haven't done enough, but I know that I have done so much. When I get home I won't know what to focus on: music, food, university, frisbee, friends, hostels, funny questions people ask me because I'm American...

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