Service begins in DC with our Community Partners

Great to see that the WIP Class of 2015 are focusing heavily on service during their time in the US. I know that they’ll bring a renewed commitment to serve their communities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland when they return at the end of the Summer.

WIP Class of 2015

One of the core values of WIP is that great leaders are focused on serving others.  Each student has already completed 30 hours of service in their home community prior to their arrival in DC.

The DC Service component of the program has been greatly increased this year with students working across 5 local organizations on a weekly basis. This will allow the students to form deeper relationships with service partners and give a breadth of experience and insight about service in DC across the class as a whole.

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The 2015 Proposed UCDSU Constitutional Reform

This post is a short take on the new constitutional reforms. In summary the new constitutional reform presents a move back to some of the real strengths of the pre-2012 constitution, while tightening up the currently strong financial safeguards of the current constitution. UCDSU’s constitution is a long document with 28 articles over 30 pages. There are many subtle changes between the 2012 (current) constitution and the 2015 (proposed) constitution, but here’s my take on the 5 biggest changes in the proposed constitution:

1) Campaigns & Communication (C&C) Officer-

The 2015 constitution will see a return to a C&C Officer which existed pre 2012 constitution but with expanded roles. This will be facilitated by removing the provision to pay the 7 part time executive officers (Convenors). The Convenors themselves will be reformed into “College Officers” which will change according to both representative need & to reflect UCD’s changing structures. Communicating with students has been one issues that has come up and again in the past two executive elections, and this reform is one that will hopefully address this issue.

2) Fresh Take Campus Entertainment-

A move to have an “interviewed” Entertainments Forum is a radical departure from traditional SU structures but one that I feel will work well. The President, C&C Officer and Entertainments Manager will recruit at the end of each academic year for candidates based on skills and abilities – as opposed to an ability to win elections. There’s even a provision that allows SU Council to change the roles to any combination between four and ten coordinators. This is new innovative thinking from UCDSU to tackle a long standing issues of how to curate the best entertainment on campus.

3) Reform Of UCDSU Sabbatical Officer Roles-

With the number of sabbatical officers going from 4 to 5 there will be a reshuffle of responsibilities.

The President will have much of the entertainments and campaigning responsibility supplemented by the C&C Officer, who will take over as the chair of entertainments forum. The enables the President to focus on overall operations of the UCDSU Ltd / SU Shops, while also keeping up with heavy representative timetable (University Finance Committee / Governing Authority etc.).

Welfare & Equality Officer will be renamed Welfare Officer, with the C&C officer taking over the equality brief. I know from personal experience of working alongside a C&C Officer in 2012/13 who chaired the campaigns forum that this is a smart move which allows the Welfare Officer to focus on more immediate issues such as student emergency finances and mental health support.

The Undergraduate Education Officer will become the Education Officer reflecting the focus of the position on the many important academic committees that they sit on such as programme boards and registry.

The Graduate Education Officer will become the Graduate Officer, taking a more holistic approach to the role, also taking on welfare issues for graduate students.

4) Better Corporate Governance-

Incorporating the UCDSU Ltd. Board of Directors into the Union’s constitution strengthens the governance structures of the organisation. The proposed constitution will for the first time bring the company structures of UCDSU Ltd / UCDSU Commercial Services Ltd. under the constitutional framework. UCDSU will now have multiple layers of governance, from Students’ Union Council to the Independent Appeals and Disciplinary Board and ultimately the Board Of Directors.

5) Full Online Voting Provisions-

The current constitution allowed for online voting for class rep elections. The new UCDSU constitution will allow it for all elections, including executive elections. Online elections means potential to engage with students overseas on Erasmus programmes as well as part time and Smurfit students with UCDSU decision making and wider structures. UCDSU will be finally mirroring UCD’s “Global University” status with election provisions to vote from anywhere you happen to be in the world.  The additional provision for “consultative referendums” means that for further decisions for controversial policy issues (such as the smoke free campus) will be able to gauge student opinion without creating binding policy which doesn’t allow for flexibility.

The Verdict? 

I recommend a yes vote – it is a more representative constitution and will place the union in a strong position for launching its strategic plan for where it wants to grow over the next number of years. Have a look at the video below for some voices and opinions from current students:

The best CSR initiatives in my community (UCD)

Mícheál Gallagher was a first time One Young World Delegate in 2013 (Johannesburg, South Africa). This year he is one of the Host City Ambassadors and part of the volunteering team that is hoping to help make your stay in Dublin as enjoyable and memorable as possible.
As part of the One Young World Summit, I’ve issued a blogging challenge to delegates and ambassadors. It’s essentially an excercise to take time a moment in your day to actively reflect on your learnings, and to meaningfully share information with the rest of the One Young World community. So here is Friday’s challenge, the best corporate social responsibility initiatives in my community.
3. CSR initiative: UCD Volunteers Overseas | Corporate Sponsor: UCD
It’s often that students forget that the institutions we’re educated in are large corporate organisations. So when it came to making this list I wanted to explore the best of what my university does when it comes to corporate social responsibility, and that example was the UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) initiative. UCDVO was established in 2003 in response to an expressed desire among students and academic staff to engage in voluntary work abroad. Since its inception and launch as a registered charitable organisation in 2004, UCDVO has extended its activities to projects in India, Haiti, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Uganda and employs a full-time Manager to co-ordinate its activities. To date, 1017 volunteers have engaged in environmental, educational, healthcare, construction and computer training projects in disadvantaged communities overseas. UCD senior staff also freely give their time to serve on the organization’s board of trustees. Through UCD’s support of this initiative it’s achieving immeasurable success in tackling global inequality issues, but it’s doing so in a responsible and sustainable fashion. It also gives UCD students an opportunity of experiential learning, developing their leadership skills and giving them international experience.
Are you an Irish student who wants to know more about overseas volunteering? Consider attending the conference entitled “Making a Difference? Perspectives on International Volunteering in Higher Education“.
 connect 2 ucd
2. CSR initiative: “Connect 2” | Corporate Sponsor: Deloitte
This initiative has to feature as it’s a student run organisation that is hitting way above its weight. What has started as a small program, now has grown into something very large which is making a very real difference for Chinese students in UCD. UCD is Ireland’s Global University which has over 25% of its students coming from overseas, a large contingent from China. UCD Connect2 aims to bridge the gap between the Chinese and Irish student communities within the university through social and business-oriented events. Coming to a new country and culture can be very daunting, however Connect2 helps break down cultural barriers and builds informal support networks which can be invaluable for students who need informal support.
This organisation was founded two years ago and I was fortunate to attend its 2014 re launch night. I was instantly impressed by the practicality of its events, with over 100 Chinese and Irish students getting to know each other and be set up into “buddie schemes” for assistance, Irish students getting help with language skills while at the same time helping their new Chinese friends settle into Irish society.
1. CSR initiative: Welfare Food Scheme | Corporate Sponsor: Kylemore Services Group

Although I described in my earlier blog about how well Ireland’s economy is performing, we as a nation have come through tough times to get to where we are now. Students and young people were a target for serious cuts to higher education funding, and the last 5 years saw both grants/financial supports were taken away while student fees have been steadily increased.

With no formal government loan scheme as is availible in other developed economies, and this has resulted in barriers to accessing higher education. There has been a steadily year on year decreasing Student Welfare Fund from the government we as students have had to turn to CSR initiatives to help those in need. A corporate leader in area this has been the Kylemore Services Group who run the majority of food outlets across UCD campus. They responded to stories of Irish students being unable to afford meals by teaming up with the Students’ Union Welfare Office to provide free food vouchers for those in need. Looking forward, young people in Ireland need to organise to tackle the issue of access to education, there are too many students putting themselves through highly stressful situations to simply try and get an education. You can read more on the food voucher scheme here –http://www.universityobserver.ie/2013/10/01/kylemore-food-scheme-set-to-return/.

That’s my definitive top three UCD CSR inititives. What are the best CSR initiatives in your community? Who are the corporations leading responsible investment? I would like to stress that all views expressed in this post are mine alone. 

One year on – How OYW Johannesburg inspired

wip15-

Mícheál Gallagher was a first time One Young World Delegate in 2013 (Johannesburg, South Africa). This year he is one of the Host City Ambassadors and part of the volunteering team that is hoping to help make your stay in Dublin as enjoyable and memorable as possible.
One Young World is the world premier youth leadership summit. I was fortunate enough to attend the 2013 Summit last year and in the immediate aftermath I posed myself the question: “What change will I make?”
This question arose from the unofficial mantra of the conference “Think Global, Act Local” and once I touched down in Ireland I got to work. Being inspired by Mandela’s story which was so prevalent throughout the 2013 Summit I decided that I wanted to get more involved in building a better future for the entire Island of Ireland and applied for the Washington Ireland Program for Service and Leadership (WIP). WIP identifies young people who have a commitment to service and a track record of leadership, and builds on their skills through work experience, educational opportunity, and hands-on citizenship both at home and in the US. WIP has supported the peace and reconciliation efforts in Northern Ireland and Ireland in the 20 years since its inception and boasts many alum in all fields of life in Ireland and the UK.
This turned out to be a great decision, with me having the most enjoyable summer of my life (who says creating a better community can’t also be fun?). It started off with a community service project in Ireland, and sitting down to interview a leader who inspires you. Then the class of 2014 was sent off to the states. It was a unique experience, and as a native of the Gaeltacht (Ireland’s Irish speaking region) I was very surprised to be affectionately calling an Ulster Unionist my host brother, and through out the course of the Summer realising just how much we have in common. Identity is one of the themes our class spent a lot of time reflecting upon, and being in the demanding environment of Washington D.C. certainly helps you get to “know yourself” a lot better!
To state that WIP gave us a “hands on experience” of citizenship in the US was an understatement. My classmates from around Ireland was thrust into the heart of American government working with various Representatives and Senators. I myself worked in a government affairs department, advocating public policy objectives. We suddenly found ourselves in “no mans land” where we could really delve into the issues of Northern Ireland and build a network among ourselves that will last far into the future. We knocked our heads together and produced a practical white paper of our vision for our shared future for the island. It’s hard to believe that the Good Friday Agreement and the Irish Peace Process is only 16 years old (younger than any OYW delegates!).

IMG_3687

Mícheál presenting Representative Richie Neal for his leadership of the Congressional Friends of Ireland Caucus on behalf of the Washington Ireland Program

My personal highlight was the event WIP held in honour of the US politicians that through their interest in Northern Ireland helped facilitate the ceasefire. It’s important to recognise the important role that global players can have in ending regional conflicts, and the US was vital in brokering the Good Friday Agreement. Start thinking now, as you land in Ireland as One Young World Delegates – what difference do you want to make in your community? What is One Young World Dublin going to inspire you to do back in your community? Act local and think global!
Why not apply for the Washington Ireland Program? If you’re a third level student who was born in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, or a citizen of Ireland or Northern Ireland, or regard Ireland or Northern Ireland as your home you may be eligible. Check out http://wip15.wiprogram.org/criteria-and-eligibility/ 
Feel free to re-tweet and share this article. Thank you for reading!

One Young World – 5 tips for first time delegates

One Young World DublinMícheál Gallagher was a first time One Young World Delegate in 2013 (Johannesburg, South Africa). This year he is one of the Host City Ambassadors and part of the volunteering team that is hoping to help make your stay in Dublin as enjoyable and memorable as possible.
We are now officially counting down the hours until the One Young World community arrives in Dublin city. I already know first hand, from being a delegate Johannesburg last year, that OYW will leave a lasting impact and legacy on Ireland’s fair city of Dublin. So take a minute from packing your bags and read my top 5 tips for making the most of your OYW Dublin experience.
1. Get up and speak from Day 1!
The One Young World Summit will give you direct access to “counselors” of incredible talent and proven success. From Nobel Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus to former Irish President Mary Robinson, there’s plenty of incredible leaders to learn from and to inspire you. After each session their will be opportunities for you to ask questions to the counselors and I’d highly recommend taking advantage of this opportunity. Get going from day 1 of the Summit and speak to whoever is involved in an issue you’re passionate about. Once you get up and speak, you’ll find dozens of other delegates interested in getting in contact with you, who are working on issues similar to your own in other countries. It’s about thinking about global impact while acting locally to make positive change at OYW as you’ll soon find out.
2. Business cards and LinkedIn: 
I remember last year being a bit taken aback by this, that everyone wants to know who you are, what you’re doing and how they can contact you. The easiest way of doing this is exchanging a business card that has your contact details and also a web address of your Twitter/LinkedIn. Furthermore, you need to remember to follow up on your conversations, otherwise the business cards aren’t much good to you and you’re pointlessly collecting little pieces of paper. Also Dublin is the European, Middle East and African Head Quarters of LinkedIn and it would be a wise move for you to cultivate your profile in advance of the OYW Summit. LinkedIn is the 21st century business card which helps you connect meaningfully with delegates from around the world who can help you achieve the change you want to see in your community. I was recently given help and advice in doing up my own LinkedIn profile, so feel free to have a look at mine for an example of where to start: http://ie.linkedin.com/in/micgalla
3. Building your network and creating change: 
If I was to set the required reading list for before you attend One Young World Summit I would definitely include Keith Farrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone”. Farrazzi’s book is a compelling read which really demystifies networking and sets out a solid plan that you can implement to create your “coalition for change”. If I was to recommend a book for immediately after the conference I’d recommend John Kotter’s “Leading Change”. Kotter is seen as an authority on change management and leadership and his practical steps can help you implement change in your home community. Maybe download a ebook or grab one from you library to help make that long flight to Ireland fly by.
4. Don’t forget the basics:
Ok I’ll speed through this point. Make sure you’ve everything packed (double check to see if you have your tooth brush and cell phone charger). Set 2 alarms in the morning (jet-lag comes out of no where!). Bring a note book to the conference centre (even if you are relying on technology bring an old school back up pen and paper). Last but not least, bring clothes that prepare for the weather. As I type this up we’re experiencing Sunny 15 degree Celsius (59 degree Fahrenheit ), but just last Wednesday, we had scenes of heavy rain so bring a coat/umbrella-

5. Enjoy Dublin!
You’re spending a week in one the European Union’s youngest cities, with 40% of the population under the age of 30.  It’s the defacto tech capital of Europe. The people are unbelievably friendly and ready to extend to you a traditional Irish “céad míle fáilte” (literally translating to “a hundred thousand welcomes”). It’s a city where world famous writers such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett drew their inspiration. It’s an Island that has a world famous peace process, with communities that less than 20 years ago turned away from armed conflict and towards respecting differences. It’s a country that in the last 6 years has gone from an economic bailout to now being the fastest growing economy in Europe. As a delegate, you every reason to be excited about visiting this city. Let me assure you Dublin’s natives are looking forward to welcoming One Young World attendees from every country and hearing your story!
Enjoyed these tips? Please feel free to share with your social network!

Mícheál Gallagher: Underlying Problems in Society

Having spent some time studying social science, I can’t help but observe the behaviour of groups of people wherever I go. This Summer taking part in the Washington Ireland Program marked my first time to the United States of America and it was a dream come true from a sociological perspective – a new culture to observe!

So Washington D.C., where to begin. The land that everyone walks around with a sense of purpose, where everyone is in a rush to do something they needed “done by yesterday’. When you finally get a chance to stop these people and start exploring their values you start finding that on a political scale, everything in the US is more “to the right” than Europe. So what American’s consider to the centre left, i.e. The Democrats, it would be the equivalent to a European centre right.

During my team here in Washington D.C…

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