International Pen Pals
University of Limerick International Division
Jose Dan – 121 Digital Programme Coordinator
MA student in UL
I'm Jose and no I'm not from Spain! I hail from India and I came to UL to pursue my Masters in Information and Network Security. In my early childhood days I was always very passionate to help others but more importantly share what knowledge I gained with others.
Little did I know when I started studying in the University of Limerick that this was the perfect platform to help the community by means of volunteering. I always thought I was a good teacher, and I decided to take up volunteering activities specific to my expertise (Teaching High school students / Adults). My outlook towards volunteering took a new angle when I met Tony Sheridan, Social Media Officer UL. His seminar on volunteering during the starting week of my course truly inspired me and pushed me forward to take up volunteering in all areas, even in those areas where I had absolutely no clue what to do. He emphasised the importance of applying for the President’s Volunteer Awards so that the efforts of each individual can be recognized by others and in turn inspire more students to take up volunteering.
After his seminar I took up many volunteering opportunities in several fields including stewarding, volunteering for Animal Welfare, Environmental Society, International Society, to name but a few. I learned a lot of new things and also discovered a new side to me. Gabriella Hanrahan is another person who had tremendous impact in my life. She helped me setup the 121Digital Project here in UL. The primary purpose of this initiative is to equip the local community in Limerick in overcoming the fear of learning/using digitaldevices by pairing each learner with a student from UL .
I wanted to be a teacher for this project since I could relate more to that as I used to help my dad learn how to use his smartphone, however, Gabriella insisted that my skills would be put to better use if I managed this project by guiding the other volunteers of 121Digital.
Today, looking back at what all I did and what I achieved, I received the PVA Gold award some time back, for my volunteering work. I am neither a glory hunter nor an awards person myself and like to work in the shadows but these awards which all students received can hopefully inspire other students to take up volunteering and improve the local community. The beauty about volunteering which I experienced was that I got to learn a lot of things which I didn't know I was capable of. By helping others, volunteering helped me improve myself. I learned how to manage a big project, how to manage time efficiently and several things which would help me in the long run. In Ireland, I have heard a saying that it’s nice to be nice. Ireland and Limerick have been extremely good to me from day one from when I landed here, and this goodness which the community gave me, I felt like giving it back and UL helped me achieve this wish of mine.
My one bit of advice for students thinking of volunteering is that volunteering changed my life, it can change your life too so just give it a try. Finally, would like to quote something I heard recently, "It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness".
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