The Dublin Global Gateway is committed to expanding the frame of intellectual, spiritual, social, and emotional reference of our participants. That is why Community-Based Learning (CBL) is located so firmly at the heart of our educational mission here. CBL celebrates the transformational power of service: the idea that each individual can and should make an impact on the lives of others — and more importantly themselves — through volunteering and community service. The importance of fusing faith and action, intellect and compassion, education and service cannot be understated, and through CBL our Dublin students exercise their social responsibility as they deepen their understanding of Catholicism, Ireland, and of themselves.
Working in close partnership with the Center for Social Concerns on the Notre Dame campus, up to twenty volunteer students are placed in service organizations across the city. Whether working with early school leavers, elderly people living alone, or the homeless, Notre Dame students encounter Irish people whom young American visitors would not normally meet. This experiential engagement gives CBL participants an unrivaled insight into Irish life, as they learn from people striving to improve conditions for the most marginalized groups. Participants keep a reflective diary of their experiences, which facilitates discussion in bi-weekly review sessions held with the CBL coordinator, a support team, and the program director.
Each semester, students can participate in service projects in the city. These projects generally occur on a designated weekend and incorporate the efforts of Notre Dame students, staff, alumni, and friends. One recent project involved the construction and painting of murals in the garden of a homeless shelter. Students can also volunteer in other activities around Dublin on a more sustained basis, such as coaching weekly basketball lessons at a nearby elementary school. These service projects afford our students the chance to assist and engage with the Irish community.
The site of a sixth-century monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin, Glendalough, from the Irish Gleann Dá Loch means valley of the two lakes. On this reflective four-hour hike through the mountainous County Wicklow, we ponder the sacrifices and gifts that have made our lives possible. Our focus on gratitude for creation and the blessings we can sometimes fail to recognize are highlighted in the stunning waterfalls, valley walls and alluring lakes, which have made Glendalough a pilgrimage site for generations dating back to the introduction of Christianity to Ireland.
The Benedictine community at Kylemore Abbey features neo-gothic ecclesiastical architecture nestled in a tranquil Connemara valley. Our retreats to Kylemore reflect on the theme of family and our perception of the meaning and value of life. The intimate community of dedicated religious at the abbey is reminiscent of the community of people who shape our lives at home, Notre Dame and in Ireland. The reflective experience on the west coast includes a hike at Croagh Patrick, Ireland’s holiest mountain, a tradition enshrined by St. Patrick who fasted at the summit for forty days.