Austin Hall a student from the University of Virginia has been on an internship placement with Comhlámh this summer organized through EUSA (www.eusainternships.org ). Some of you may have met him at Comhlámh events and activities.
Austin’s placement followed requests from North American volunteer sending organisations for a self audit tool based on the CoGP, customised for use in the USA and Canada. Although it will never be possible to maintain a Code of Good Practice for organisations outside of Ireland, with all the supports available to signatory organisations, Austin has compiled The Comhlámh Self-Audit Tool for North American Volunteer Sending Organizations (SATNAV) which will be available for use by North American volunteer sending organisations as a reflective tool to help them develop their own practice in responsible volunteering.
Austin has written a short blog on his experience with us here in Comhlámh
Three months ago, I received an email. I was informed I had the opportunity to travel across the Atlantic to produce a North American edition of a Code of Good Practice for a group called Comhlámh. I was enthused… and then mortified. When I signed up for this internship program, I expected to be filing paperwork and making coffee (I still did plenty of the latter). Frantically googling Comhlámh, I was struck by how devoted the organization appeared to be to development and their core values. Of course I wondered, however, to what extent these were actually realized in an office, where often you are busy and on a deadline.
When I arrived, the kindness and friendliness immediately shook me from those first day jitters. Philip made sure I knew that, first and foremost, this was a learning experience for me. Mark sat me down, asked me about myself, and gave me a brief history of Comhlámh. The way the office operated demonstrated that these values of solidarity, sustainability, justice, and equality were not simply lip service, but part of the culture. The way everyone greeted each other so happily, ate lunch together, offered to make others tea, and do each other’s dishes drove this home every day that I was here at Comhlámh.
The belief in Comhlámh’s mission displayed by everyone in the office motivated me to undergo my task with diligence and respect for its potential importance. I’m so happy to say that yesterday we sent the final draft of the Self-Audit Tool for North American Volunteer Sending Organizations (SATNAV) to the printers. The experience of creating a document for an organization I have come to admire so sincerely has been remarkably rewarding.
I feel so lucky to have gotten this opportunity and I can’t wait to hold this new document in my hands.
And here he is!