Serving (in) Europe

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Lindsay Burgess ’23 plays with children in a Caritas refugee center in Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Nanovic Institute’s flagship service learning program, Serving (in) Europe, seeks to engage Notre Dame students in pressing social issues facing the European continent today. From the war in Ukraine and the influx of Ukrainian refugees in neighboring states to widening socioeconomic inequality and poverty, this program invites students to accompany Caritas organizations across Europe in addressing complex and urgent humanitarian crises. 

In the spirit of Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries, the Nanovic Institute, through this program, seeks to bring students to the geographic and existential “peripheries” of Europe. These may include rural or neglected urban communities or countries on the “edges of Europe,” drawing students into conversations about human dignity, the common good, and the reality of these ideals in our world today.

Through eight-week service-learning internships as well as pre-departure meetings, regular reflections, and a post-service retreat, students will accompany community members in achieving real objectives while gaining a deeper understanding of their culture and the issues they face. Caritas partners will serve as facilitators of the “transformative experience of being there” and will guide students in completing necessary and useful projects during their summer placements.

Host Sites and Internship Details

The Nanovic Institute is partnering with three Caritas branches: Caritas Ambrosiana (Italian language skills required), Caritas Lublin, and Caritas Sofia. Each site will have different needs, but students can broadly expect to assist with project monitoring and evaluation, implementation, and service alongside community members and volunteers. Internships will take place over eight weeks during the months of June and July. Students must be able to commit to the duration of their programs.

There are up to four internship positions available with each organization. Students will be selected based on their previous professional or academic experience, their commitment to understanding key social justice issues and humanitarian work in the world today, and any relevant language skills. Applicants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the current work of the specific Caritas organization with which they would like to intern and, in their application, speak to how their skills align with the work being done by that organization. Students may only apply for one internship site.

Interns are expected to be fully committed to their assigned projects when on-site. Each group of interns will have a mentor from the host Caritas organization who will provide opportunities for reflection, cultural activities, and community engagement. Students should participate fully in these opportunities. Interns will also complete weekly written reflections and may contribute to the Nanovic Navigator student blog. Upon completion of their internship and at the start of the following academic year, students will meet for a half-day reflection retreat. The Nanovic Institute expects participants to assist with the evaluation and improvement of the internship program, as well as the recruitment of new student participants.

Applications are due here by Tuesday, November 15 at 11:59 p.m.

Questions? Contact Student Programs Assistant Director Anna Dolezal at adolezal@nd.edu