The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) fosters community university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy.

Lily Kennedy Reflection

My name is Lily Kennedy and I’m a transition year student in Salerno. I hope to do an Arts degree after I finish with school.

As part of my TY work experience, I’ve spent this past week going around NUI Galway and it’s been an absolutely brilliant experience. I now have a greater insight into what life as a university student would be like. I understand how courses are structured and I know a lot more about amazing programmes such as StudentVolunteer and Erasmus which help to get young people out into the world to become more active members of society, either abroad or in their local area. Programmes like these also help to dispel negative preconceived notions the general public may have abut university students. I’ve realised that there are so many other members of staff required for the smooth running of a campus than just the academic staff, and how each unique role is of equal importance. Some of these extraordinary people I was fortunate enough to meet this week.

I’ve been in the Bailey Allen Hall before but until this work experience that was all I’d ever seen of the College. So this week I wanted to get around to every building and I’m pretty sure I achieved that. I most likely spent the majority of my time in ILAS where I had the privilege of seeing what the Community Knowledge Initiative team do on a daily basis. Lorraine McIlrath, head coordinator and the rest of her team are constantly coming up with innovative ideas for new projects that promote communal engagement. A.L.I.V.E is one of the many success stories which stemmed from CKI which I also got to learn a lot about this week. I met some of the students and read a lot of reviews of those who volunteered as a part of the ALIVE programme. They all had only positive things to say about their time volunteering. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent down in the Hub as well.

The Saol Cafe has to be my favourite cafe in Galway. This is yet another one of CKI’s past projects. Unlike any other cafes on campuses nationwide the Saol Cafe is a Social Enterprise venture which employs those who may have a disability or difficulty that makes it a challenge to access employment. The customer service is like nowhere else, the staff know just about every customer by name and are so attentive and fast when it comes to serving food. Their produce is locally sourced and they make the nicest falafel wraps in the city.

I’ve been given numerous tours of the various buildings and I feel like I finally know my way around but I have to admit I asked a lot of people for directions in the first few days – and that wasn’t a half bad thing either. Before I would have shied away from situations involving me having to approach a stranger, but as NUIG is such a social environment I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and make an extra effort to engage. I really believe I’ve become much more confident because of it.

I’ve been so lucky to have had an opportunity like this in my TY year. I would advise any secondary school student to try to get a similar placement at some stage because I think it makes the whole prospect of starting university a lot less daunting when you know the basics. I’ve really valued my time here for the last 5 days and I’m really grateful to those who facilitated me. I’m just so upset that I won’t be going back in there tomorrow morning!