NETWORK BUILDING IN IRELAND
I have just completed my first week and half at my placement with the Metro Éireann newspaper organizing the Fourth Annual Intercultural Writing Competition. In the past, the Intercultural Writing Competition was more focused on targeting students that live in Dublin. This year I am focusing on expanding the competition to other major cities such as Cork and Galway.
Within my brief time at this placement, I have definitely faced challenges in creating a new intercultural network throughout all of Ireland. Having never been to Ireland before, I did not have any connections or people that I knew here. However, with the help from Professor Tobin, Professor Shanahan, and Mr. Onyejelem, the editor of Metro Éireann, I have found my footing in Ireland. I have also found DukeEngage Dublin’s network to be extremely helpful. For example, two students that have had this assignment previously have given me insightful advice on how to improve the competition. Also, I have received immense help and support from the cohort, especially from Alex Johnson who has specifically helped me on the publicity side of the competition.
Given the competition’s expansion, I want to focus on a specific strategy for each city that I go visit. So far, I am mainly focusing on the Dublin strategy. I have been contacting numerous libraries, youth centers, community centers, and churches. Over the past couple of days, Alex and I have begun to hang flyers in the outskirts of Dublin on both the north and south side of the city. These districts have mainly been composed suburban residences. We wanted to ensure to advertise the competition in the suburbs so students that do not live in the center of Dublin can have the opportunity to participate. In the next upcoming days, I will need the cohort’s help hanging flyers throughout the city of Dublin. Their help is essential because I am trying to get the word out as quickly and efficiently as possible since we have already received social media promotion from writing centers and cultural centers.
Another challenge I have faced so far in building an intercultural network has been ensuring that there is diversity. Fortunately, Metro Éireann’s office is located in a part of town in which migrants make up the majority of the population. Metro Éireann is also known as a multicultural newspaper which means its readers come from various backgrounds. In addition, Mr. Onyejelem included a press release I had written in the front page of the latest issue of his newspaper which will help the competition gain diversity. Nevertheless, it is critical for me to focus on promoting the competition to migrants, especially for students whose first language is not English. For that reason, Alex and I visited the City of Dublin Education and Training Board Youth and Education Service Program where we gave a small presentation explaining the basis of the competition and gave teachers informational flyers. I made sure to stress that this writing competition is a great opportunity to practice writing in English because I understand the struggles of learning English through my own experience as a Mexican migrant moving to the United States at a young age.
Constructing a new intercultural network across all of Ireland will continue to be a challenge throughout my time here. In just the first week and a half, I have had some success through social media publicity and hanging flyers. Just today as I was hanging flyers, I visited a radio station that is interested in interviewing me on air next week. What made this experience even more special was that I met with the main producer who showed keen interest despite being stressed about interviewing the new mayor of Dublin. With help from the cohort, the DukeEngage Dublin network, and continuous productivity, I will be able to build an intercultural network across Ireland.