As the holiday season sets in, Dublin City University’s Senior International Officer has embarked on a new venture that he calls a celebration of international cultures. Interviewing the vivacious Colum Cronin, Babylon learns the inspiration behind DCU’s latest Christmas project that focuses on the international community, what it is about and what it ultimately aims to achieve.
The Project, named DCUinDecember, is the university’s latest venture focused on bringing together holiday stories of the International Community during a month when many holidays are celebrated globally. Asking individuals to record a short video clip talking about the holidays they celebrate and what they most enjoy about them, the projects is an attempt to further give voice to the international community in Ireland.
Colum has worked with various higher education institutions over the past 15 years, working with hundreds if not thousands of international students and members of the international community, the experience has offered him an understanding of various facets of an immigrant’s life that most people are oblivious to.
“The inspiration has been with me for a while, working in higher-ed institutions for some time now. I was conscious of the international student’s need for closure, especially during the holiday season, I suppose it was about looking at ways to try to help international students maybe create their communities of support. At a time when a lot of people are home with their families and kind of celebrating their friends and families for so many international students, it can be a lonely time.”
The project is an attempt at understanding and shedding light on the cultural traditions and practices of Ireland’s vast immigrant community, which amounts to over 12.7% as of 2019.
“International students might come from places where Santa Claus, you know, isn’t a thing And I suppose learning about Ireland is excellent for them, but for me, one of the great benefits of international students coming to Ireland is what we learn from international cultures, and what they bring to our campuses to our institutions to our country. And so I thought, let’s look at the kind of, you know, capturing that in some way, and I thought we could do that through videos, which are a way to try and bring individuals together and highlight what a diverse and wonderful international community we have.”
Speaking more about the project, Colum adds, “we are trying to provide a platform to allow people to share their stories and to have their voice heard because I think that’s really important for our international community to be heard. We have our own culture, our own traditions that should be voiced and shared. And so it’s a small way of doing that.”
With such cultural variation and so many different holidays celebrated throughout the migrant community in Ireland, with International residents celebrating Diwali, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Spring festival, there is so much to learn, now only for the Irish community but also for individuals coming to Ireland.
“In Ireland, we have a tradition where a lot of people will tend to run into the sea at Christmas and its called the Polar Plunge very often because it’s so cold. Then you hear about how people in Australia or Panam go to the beach and spend the day at the beach and have a barbecue for Christmas and that is just fascinating.”
While the video project is limited to the DCU community, Colum’s Twitter and Linkedin pages are a platform for all those who wish to learn more and talk more about their own culture and traditions from back home.
On a parting note, Colum exclaims, “I wish a very Happy Christmas whether you celebrate or you don’t celebrate. It can be, you know, times of struggle. So the goal was to find the support that you need, whether it is friends around you or whether you need additional support services but if you do need additional supports, reach out, because there are people there and while offices may be closed over Christmas, there will be organizations working on people, like the Samaritans who are available all year round. Reach out and talk, talk to people, and because it can be lonely too when you are here and feel on your own but we are here to help and listen. Nollaig Shona Dhuit.”
Members of the DCU community can click here to submit their videos.