Sinead Mulry

SERVE Programmes Intern Sinead Mulry reflects on her time with SERVE’s Think Global Act Local programme.

I participated in SERVE’s Think Global Act Local (TGAL) programme for three months. I joined the programme to help expand my knowledge of my course on ‘International Development’ in UCC, as well as add more to my current placement with SERVE as their Programme’s Intern.

Sinead's reflection

What is the Think Global Act Local programme about?

TGAL is a global learning programme that is hosted online and involves using participatory and inclusive methods. The programme is facilitated by mentors who volunteered for SERVE in the past and who have a great insight into their own experiences in different countries of the Global South. The programme started in April, and since then, there have been three online Global Forum workshops. As well as these forums, we had a selection of challenges given to us online to complete. Here are a few highlights from the programme so far from my perspective. 

One of the modules we covered that I found the most interesting was the Personal Development module. In our first task of this module, we were prompted to be introspective and look at our “core values”. To do this, we had to complete several exercises, including readings, videos, tasks and listening to podcasts. At the end of this part of the module, we were tasked with creating a picture collage inspired by the challenges and illustrating what volunteer role would suit these values best.

Sinead's Core Values collage
Sinead's Core Values collage

My Core Values

The core values that resonated most with me were Courage, Justice, and Humanity. I then went through my core values in detail and related them to volunteering. By looking at myself in a more focused light and realising my strengths weaknesses, I learned that volunteering in development is the right path. In hindsight, I realised while doing this exercise, my weaknesses in the past can become my strengths in the present.

One of these core values I found insightful to think about was Courage. I have suffered from anxiety in the past. I found it hard to get myself out there. With volunteering in development, courage is not only important; but a requirement. I learned that it’s important to tell oneself that the outcome is worth it in the end. 

Speakers at TGAL

Over the three months I spent in TGAL so far, we’ve had several guest speakers. My favourite speaker was James Leonard. James discussed his life experiences from past drug addiction to an honours degree in UCC in criminology. James was in and out of prison from a young age and felt that it was a familiar way of being because it was where his friends and parents were in the past. During his time in prison, he was introduced to heroin at 21. He became a user for 10 years and spoke about how the drug made him feel so isolated and separate from society, as well as pushing him into a stereotype, where it was assumed he wouldn’t do much with his life.  

Now James works with Cork Education and Training Board (ETB) Youth Services. James also has a very successful podcast called the ‘Two Norries’ that I now love to listen to from time to time. By listening to his life-changing experiences, James taught me how attitudes and languages can have a huge effect on people and that no culture is superior to the other and that we shouldn’t judge a culture based on another culture, and all cultural norms are valid and relevant to that context. This point is relevant to any role in a development context home and abroad. 

TGAL is a great experience, and I have learned so much so far. I find myself more engaged on different social injustices and find myself more able to discuss topics such as gender inequality, ethical consumption, and personal development in more detail. But most importantly, I’ve learned how to use the information given to me in this programme to better myself and others around me by thinking globally and acting locally. 

James Leonard, Host of 'the two norries podcast' Guest Speaker of SERVE's Think Global Act Local Programme
James Leonard, Host of 'the two norries podcast' Guest Speaker of SERVE's Think Global Act Local Programme