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Savannah Cressman- an international one semester student


Savannah Cressman, an international one semester student volunteered during her time here at UL! This is her experience volunteering:

'From volunteering at the homework club, I have learned that the organisation provides help to local students on their homework and I have seen the impact it makes on not only the students, but on their parents as well. The organisation saw a need among students and families so the founders created an accessible and cheap option for their children to receive help
This opportunity taught me that I do not remember everything from primary school! However, I learned that most problems can be worked out with a little bit of time and thought. 
Working with children this closely and individually taught me that being assertive is important to establish your authority among them. In addition, I learned that I do not have as much patience as I thought I did! I learned that swim club is available to disabled children and it provides them an opportunity to go outside of their comfort zone and be in the water. It does this because there are not many options for disabled children to learn to swim. I learned that it does not take much skill to swim with a child, it only takes willingness to give your time up to be there! 
I volunteered because I was only in Ireland for four months and I wanted to get an opportunity to see more of the Irish culture by interacting with children.
I chose to volunteer with homework club because I enjoy being a tutor and I enjoy helping kids with homework and studying. It also took place right where I live so it was very convenient for me to be there!  I chose to help with swim club because I have a passion for working with disabled children and I love to swim! In addition, I think what the program does is really great! 
In the Homework club I was responsible for helping 1-4 children with their homework. This included reading with them/to them, checking their math problems, etc. Once they finished their homework I was responsible for supervising them and playing games with them until the time was over.  I always looked at volunteering as hard work, when in some cases it can be a lot of fun!
At swim club, I was responsible for being in the pool with one child, where I worked to improve their swimming skills and helped them feel comfortable being in the water. My outlook has often been "what can volunteering do to make me look better," but after working with these children my outlook has changed to "how can I help these kids more?"
I worked alongside 5-10 other volunteers, where we would work together to keep the children focused. If I was not able to answer a question I would ask another volunteer. In addition, once the children finished their homework, we used teamwork to keep the children under control until the time was over.
Volunteering with both of these organisations has helped develop my communication skills. I am better at talking with children and using words that make things easier for them to understand. I am better at using a tone of voice where they will listen and I am better at slowing things down to their pace. In addition, I am better at talking to parents that I don't know well, as I had constant communication with the parents of the children in both homework club and swim club.
Yes, my career choice has a huge opportunity to work with children, especially disabled children. I did not have plans on pursuing this, however I have opened the door to it being a possibility! Being able to interact with Irish children has increased my knowledge of the Irish culture and I have really enjoyed getting to know them.'

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