I cannot believe I have been in Dublin for two months, time is going way too fast. Is this some kind of sick joke? Needless to say I’m becoming a bit of a local. Kind of like the Britney Spears song Not a Girl, Not Yet a Women…I’d say “I’m Not a tourist, Not Yet a Local”. Oh yeah, I went there.  I think it really hit me that I was actually a Dublin resident after my first day of volunteering when I was forced to conquer Dublin public trans and was an active member of society. I got on the #13 bus and had no idea which stop was mine-I walked up to the bus driver (thankfully he was such a nice man) who told me when to get off but the heart palpitations didn’t stop until I was safe behind a desk at the Ballymun Women’s Resource Centre.

The BWRC is a really great place and extremely important to the women that live in Ballymun. (Ballymun is one of Europe’s largest urban redevelopment projects.) Ballymun has high rates of poverty and all of the other social issues that accompany it where ever it goes.  The Centre offers programmes and services, for women and their families in the form of job skills training, child care, employment and other welfare services.  One of the coolest parts of the Centre is that the majority of the staff at the Centre are also the women enrolled in the job skills courses.  So far, I’ve redesigned surveys that the Centre uses to improve their programmes and services so the next step will be to actually implement and sort through the data I collect. Sounds like a real person job, ew-good thing I love it! It’s always a good feeling when you can see that very expensive thing called an education kick in in the clutch! Overall I’d say that volunteering is one of the best decisions I’ve made while abroad. Yes, it feels good to volunteer but it has enhanced my experience more than I could have imagined. I have gotten to know local members of the community at a much more personal level while learning about the social and political structure of Ireland, especially in an area of Dublin which has some of the greatest need. The work can be done without me, and it will continue to be done without me when I leave but my experience is something that I will always be able to share.

Amber Duerwaechter is studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).