I think part of the point of Gaisce, is not just to come and do your 13 weeks or 50 weeks. It is to try to hook you in longer term to civic duty and volunteerism and to try to get you to contribute to the community.
A different perspective
Everything you do with Gaisce is a learning experience and gives you a bit of perspective on life. I think Gaisce as a whole brings you many new different viewpoints that stick with you as you grow and enter the workforce. In my current work in community development, the skillset that I have now started off with a School Completion programme project I completed as part of my residential. I also continued my personal skill from Gaisce of web development as a hobby and in a side-job capacity. I have used the original work I completed as part of the Gold Award as a portfolio for new jobs.
Tennis versus Running
For my physical recreation I took up tennis, which I didn’t enjoy, but it helped me rule out tennis as a means of fitness! Which led me to going into running, so I’m very happy with that. I’m not part of club but I have done a lot of mass participation events like the Virgin Media night run, or the Waterford Solas Run. Setting targets and saying to yourself ‘I want to be able to run this’ is always a positive thing. However, I don’t think I’ll ever be a marathon runner! Overall, Gaisce has helped me learn a great deal about myself and helped me broaden my interests.
Time management is key
Gaisce is also definitely a lesson in time management, which is very useful! You have to commit to at least four areas: Your skill, your physical activities and your community involvement along with the adventure journey. You do learn a lot in terms of prioritising work and how to maximise your time and your contribution in whatever it is you’re working on. But, it was difficult balancing college work and part time work as well. The most valuable learning I took away from managing my time under the Gaisce challenge, was having a defined start, middle and end in working towards defined goals whether they are 3, 6 or 12 months in length. This really helped in achieving that balance.
UN Youth Delegate Programme
More recently, I’ve been involved in The UN Youth Delegate Programme. The UN Youth Delegate programme, to give a bit of background, is managed by The Department of Foreign Affairs, Irish Aid and the National Youth Council of Ireland. This the fourth year of the programme and the whole point of it is to give young people a voice at UN level. So when you go to the UN and you speak, you are speaking on behalf of Ireland and you’re representing people aged 10 to 30, which is a really broad age base. The UN delegates every July/August and there is an application process.
The biggest learning, academically is how the UN, internationally and nationally affects us at a local level even though it’s this huge Global organisation. Everyone knows about the UN, but very few know what it does. You come back feeling very patriotic about the role of Ireland at a global level. It gives you a lot of perspective on global issues and how lucky we are to live in Ireland. On a practical level I feel the programme has helped me to enhance skills such as networking, public speaking and distilling large amounts of information.
Personal and Professional Development
The whole experience of Gaisce itself really helped me when I was in the UN. When we were in the UN we were looking at access to education, poverty, equality and so on. Through the projects I was involved in in the Gold Award I was aware of that type of work. I was able to use the experience I had from my residential project in channelling perspectives into that work. As Gaisce was so full on in terms of managing time, it was really useful for me in trying to handle having to do a million things in one week. Gaisce also helps in terms of confidence, Gaisce really helps you to develop as a person and to build your own self-esteem and confidence and that contributes to you getting to wherever you’re going in the first place. You would argue, that if you hadn’t have undertaken Gaisce, you wouldn’t have followed the same pathway. My degree is computer forensics and security, but I’m working in citizen participation. There’s definitely a link there between personal and professional development.