Volunteer Service

“I think this is an important part of service. With service, the desired result you want may not be attained immediately, but every effort counts towards making a difference.”

Anonymous - IPSL Ireland Alum

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Volunteer Service May Include:
  • at-risk youth

  • refugees and immigrants

  • the elderly and other marginalized and vulnerable populations

  • the homeless

  • people struggling with addiction

  • people with physical and mental disabilities

  • children and youth  (tutoring, sports and rec, etc)  

Ethical Service in Ireland

As an IPSL service-learning participant in Dublin, Ireland you will have the opportunity to perform volunteer service in one of several local partner organizations/agencies. IPSL does its best to match your skills and interests to the placement, but please remember that the notion of service is, first and foremost, to respond to the needs of others. You will play a role not only by actively participating with a determined role among the team members, but also by enriching the projects and programs with your knowledge, experience, and hard work.  Therefore, each project or program is improved and enriched with your participation. Your impact on other people's lives will be powerful and sustainable, even if you don't see the results right away.

Service-Learning™ versus Internship/Practicum

IPSL service-learning placements are determined, in part, by student interests and skills (and, in some cases, language abilities), but primarily by community needs. Central to the philosophy of service-learning is the notion of service. Service-learning is not the same as an internship or practicum although it may look very similar. The service in service-learning may or may not be career-related. An internship is designed mostly so that the student will benefit by learning about his or her future profession. In contrast, in service-learning, the outcome of the student's work - that is, the service -  is as important as the student’s learning. There are  - or should be - identifiable benefits to those served. This reciprocity is a key component in international service-learning.

IPSL Service Placements

IPSL's service-learning placements are in agencies that have sprung up from the grassroots, where locals have identified a need, and where the change effort is owned by them. What they need is additional assistance of all kinds from the outside. So, IPSL participants should remember that they are stepping into a moving stream of initiatives and efforts that began long ago, and that will continue after the participant departs. Your work is important, but your individual contributions may not be visible for many years. Change takes time. In the meantime, you are fulfilling a need, and the need is huge.

A single agency may need hands-on assistance from IPSL participants (direct service) or assistance in the background building capacity (indirect service) so that the agency can one day experience more stability in the delivery of its services. Either way, both direct and indirect service are needed to accomplish the goals. Each is valuable. In actuality, because nearly all non-profits experience resource scarcity, IPSL participants do a little bit of everything. And this is as it should be. Nothing says "I'm a partner in your community" more than a willingness on the part of a service-learning™ participant not only to do higher tasks, but also occasionally to pick up a broom and sweep the floor so that the setting is clean and presentable. Such actions serve to break down stereotypes about Americans, and build relationships based on equality. That is why many of the service agencies with which we work have been our partners for years.

Volunteer Service that Addresses Real Human Needs

The IPSL service-learning program in Dublin, Ireland offers students the opportunity to experience international volunteer service in a large urban metropolis with many pressing environmental social problems that effect the entire population. During Orientation, you will have an opportunity to work with IPSL staff to learn about the various service opportunities available and select one (or possibly more)  that is of interest to you. Students may support non-profits, NGOs and community development agencies. You will serve approximately 12-15 hours per week in a local agency.

Volunteer Service Examples

Following are examples of agencies where IPSL students have served in the past or may be able to serve. Other service placements may be available. Your placement will be determined by community and agency needs, as well as your interests, goals, and skills.



This organization is part of a global network of 105 clubhouses, and is based in a disadvantaged area of inner city Dublin. The clubhouse provides educational and personal support to a range of young people, and students participate in these activities, including art, music, film/tv, theater and technology. 


“This placement has been very positive for me. There is a great work atmosphere here and I love working with the kids each day. The kids are so talented and creative. It brightens my day to get to create theater and have fun with the kids.” Ally E., Psychology Major, Boston University, 2012



Founded in 1996 as a patient support organization, this NGO is dedicated to reducing incidences of a preventable disease by promoting healthy behaviors, and provides support for sufferers and their families. 

" I feel as though I have learned a lot about the public health system here, and feel like I can go back to my university with valuable knowledge.” Mary M., Health Science Major, SUNY, 2012



Working in 26 of the world’s poorest countries, this NGO works with local people to make major and sustainable improvements in their lives. Interns help research and collate information on the organization’s ongoing projects, contribute to the organization’s newsletter, and participate in ongoing work on social and behavioural change. 


“I love that I'm working on projects that truly are affecting people's lives. While my actions are not directly contributing to the programs, my reports of how the programs operated will enable this NGO to build upon their strengths in future endeavors.”  Jessalyn T., Women’s Studies, Boston University, 2010



This organization is dedicated to creating opportunities for people to participate in social integration projects both in Ireland and abroad with a view to promoting intercultural dialog and harmony. Students assist with a variety of tasks including event planning and promotion, fundraising and research.


“I am satisfied and am very lucky to have been placed in such an accommodating and diverse place.  There are days where I am sitting in on Senate meetings and shaking hands with foreign ambassadors.  It’s very cool." Bradley C.


This international organization is dedicated to the protection of fundamental human rights across the globe. Students work in the dynamic fundraising unit, contributing to a variety of projects, events and campaigns.


“I really love it here. I always get nervous working at new places, because I never want to bother anyone by asking questions or asking for more work, but I have not felt that here at all. Everyone is open with me about what they do and while I would be happy photocopying or getting coffee, I actually get to have more of a hands-on role. While fundraising itself isn't necessarily on top of my list of interests, it is very important to keep Amnesty running and it is nice to know that I'm playing a part.”  Alexis L.




Based at a purpose-built community youth center, students work a variety of programs and events in support of professional Youth Workers. The work includes the day-to-day work of the drop-in center to special initiatives targeting certain minority youth groups. 


"I am really, really enjoying my time here.  I have gotten to know the staff and many of the young people and built relationships with them.  I get the opportunity to enjoy experiences that I have never been through before and also watch young people challenge themselves and learn from what they accomplish.”  Andrea S.




Unemployment is the most pressing social issue in present-day Ireland. Founded in 1994, this non-profit has come to play an increasingly important role in Dublin. Volunteers work on different programs, but always with the intention of supporting their search and helping them regain their confidence and dignity. 


"This organization became more to me than just my service site. It became a comfortable environment filled with support and encouragement, as well as a place to receive constructive criticism. I've seen how the organization works, and volunteers are essential to helping complete the day-to-day tasks that the staff have push aside. We all work hard, and I hope I contribute to the environment and cause I respect so much.” Gentry H.


Established by a group of women over 25 years ago, this community-based and entirely self-funded charity houses over 70 animals that have been abandoned or rescued from situations of abuse. Volunteers mainly work closely with the animals, helping to feed, clean, groom and exercise them.

“The chance to combine service, real service, with something that I love is not an opportunity that I am presented with often.  This place is more than an animal shelter, it's a sanctuary.  We can learn much and more from animals, if we bother to pay attention.”  Will P.