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Maine to Ireland: Exploring Ways to Use My Explorer Fund

May 6, 2016 1:30:00 PM / by Stephanie Sadler

CAPAStudyAbroad_SP21_Dublin_Alum_ColeTaylorCole Taylor is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2016, sharing their story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A journalism and media writing major at Lasell College, they are studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In this week's post, Cole talks about the ways in which they've used their explorer fund that comes with the role of being an official CAPA blogger!  

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When I applied to be the official spring 2016 blogger for CAPA Dublin, I was pleased to see there was a stipend included. I did not choose to apply because of the money, but rather to expand my blogging/writing experience and build my portfolio for future prospects—the stipend was just a bonus. Included in the stipend was something called the Explorer Fund, which is a portion of money that the blogger receives upon arrival to Dublin and it is up to the blogger to spend it how they please. I contemplated trying different restaurants with the money and writing a blog about them. I thought about going to movies and writing reviews for each one. Several ideas popped into my head over the course of a few weeks, but it was not until mid-March that I decided exactly what I wanted to do with the money.

I realized I was thinking too hard, and I did not want to do something that other people have done. One day, it hit me that if I did not get chosen to be the official blogger I would not have received the money, so instead of spending it on movies and food, I decided to spend it on others. There is something about giving and performing random acts of kindness that fills my heart with joy. I have always been a giver because I believe just by doing one small, considerate gesture someone’s day could be made. If you were to ask my mom, dad, sister, girlfriend, family, and friends back at home, they would tell you the same thing.

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There were moments where I gave a five euro bill to the homeless. There was an occasion where I bought a meal for the woman behind me at Tolteca Mexican Grill. On multiple occasions, I bought coffees for people and even brought Belgian chocolate back to my program directors. There were even times that did not involve money—standing up on the bus to let the elderly sit, gesturing them to get onto the buses before me, and putting groceries in a handicapped mans’ backpack because he was struggling. Why did I do all of this? That is simple—just because. Some of my favorite moments though, cannot be completely conveyed through words because they were just too special.

The first extremely memorable act of kindness I did was to help an elderly man at a bus stop. He was asking people if they had any spare change and most people ignored him while some answered with a shake of the head. I think people avoid the question because they immediately jump to a conclusion; he is going to buy alcohol, he is going to buy drugs with it, he is just trying to get money from me, etc. While sometimes this is very true, who are we to assume such things? The man approached me and asked if I had spare change. I pulled my backpack to the front of my body and searched for my wallet. I pulled out a ten euro bill and a bag of chips and handed it to him. Some people around me saw the whole thing happen and all they did was stare. The man looked at me, puzzled and stretched his arm out slowly. He shook my hand and said God bless, miss. He thanked me a few more times before offering to give the money back and only take the chips. I told him to take both and have himself a great night. My heart was full and I think it is safe to say his was too.

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Another act of kindness that I remember clearly was on a night out with friends. Four of us decided to stop at a place called the Oval Bar and have some dinner together before heading home. Normally, in Ireland, tipping is not expected. In America, the case is exactly the opposite. The whole time we were at this bar, our waiter ran up and down the stairs fetching silverware, food, drinks, and napkins for customers. He even let us move to a different table and cleared it quickly so we would not have to wait. He was attentive, kind, humorous, and patient. Sometimes when it comes to tipping, you just know—you know when a waiter or waitress deserves something extra special. As we finished our drinks and meals, we all put cash down on the table to cover what we ordered individually. After we covered the initial cost, we all put down a couple euros for the waiter, but I decided to give more than I normally do because it felt right. As we walked out of the bar, I handed the check tray to our waiter and on it rested a fifty euro bill. Immediately, his eyes grew as he said “Are you serious?” I told him he was amazing and he deserved it. He proceeded to say, “Oh my gosh, thank you” and continued to look at me. I could feel the appreciation.

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Lastly, one of my favorite and most memorable acts of kindness was very recently. My internship ended on Wednesday, April 27th. My experience at Olytico (my internship site) was incredible and the people were phenomenal. I knew I wanted to do something unique and special for the Olytico team. A couple weeks before my last day, I started to research places in the area that could screen print t-shirts. With lots of emails back and forth, I finalized the design and ordered a t-shirt for each co-worker. The remainder of my Explorer Fund went to the first ever Olytico t-shirts. I heard my supervisor, Stephen say on more than one occasion he wished they had t-shirts for certain events and moments. That sparked my attention and I never forgot it. When they opened their gifts, their reactions said it all. They could not believe I ordered one for each of them. Irish people are typically humble and appreciative around the clock, and it was even more apparent on that day. They were thankful and excited at the thought of wearing them to upcoming events including team road races. They told me I did not have to do that. I told them, I do not have to do anything. I did it because I wanted to.

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My Explorer Fund was given to me to spend as I wished. I very easily could have spent it on groceries, museums, movies, restaurants, or bills. Instead, I chose to put smiles on people’s faces. I chose something different.

Sometimes giving feels better than receiving. I get a feeling that surpasses adrenaline or elation. There is no way to actually describe it, but it is something I never want to stop feeling. A giving heart is not instilled in everybody, but I believe it is instilled in me for a reason. I was given a gift of kindness and selflessness and I aim to demonstrate them each and every day whether it be paying for someone’s lunch or holding a door—random acts of kindness amount to so much for some people. You never really know the impact you make on someone when you give, but that is the beauty in giving. You give without expectation. You give because it feels good.

I give because I want to make a difference.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ~Mahatma Gandhi

Thanks Cole!

Cole's journey continues every Friday so stay tuned.

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Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Official Bloggers and Vloggers