Overseas placement opened up new career for Trinity student
Astrophysics student signed up for 10-week placement in an orphanage in Calcutta with Suas
Amy Mulcahy in one of the Umbrella Foundation’s homes for girls in Nepal in 2011.
Amy Mulcahy was studying astrophysics in Trinity College Dublin when she first signed up for a 10-week placement in an orphanage in Calcutta, India, with Irish educational development agency Suas as an alternative to going on a J1 for the summer.
The 28-year-old from Castleknock, Dublin, found the experience so rewarding that she did a second stint the following summer in a makeshift school in a Delhi slum.
“I saw it as an opportunity to experience a new culture and a part of the world I had never seen before. I had no idea then that it would open up a new career path for me.”
After graduating she cast astrophysics aside in favour of a job running a volunteer programme for the Umbrella Foundation in Nepal, an Irish-run organisation working with vulnerable children.
The nine months she intended to stay turned into 2½ years.
“Organisations such as Umbrella have such limited resources that you are thrown in at the deep end, so I gained great experience in multitasking and project management. We dealt with children who were trafficked, trying to reunite them with their families or villages of origin if possible, so being able to think laterally and see the bigger picture was important.
“Even on a short placement you gain a great insight into development issues. You are working with a variety of people, other volunteers from all over the world, local Nepalese staff, children and local people. It is an amazing experience. You learn so much about yourself, and it opens your eyes to so many things.”
She says the prospect of a career where she could keep contributing “was too great to pass up”, and she is now studying for a master’s at the Kimmage Development Studies Centre in Dublin.