A presentation was made on Tuesday to three Learning Ambassadors from Southill at Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board’s Further Education and Training Centre, Kilmallock Road Campus, Limerick. The presentation was a photobook detailing their involvement in the Learning Ambassadors initiative over the past two years.
Learning Limerick Ambassadors is a novel grassroots initiative of Learning Limerick that brings the Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival into the everyday lives of people. The Learning Ambassadors are Limerick people from all walks of life, united by a common interest in promoting, developing and celebrating learning. They can help break down all sorts of barriers to learning as they share inspiring learning stories from their own lives or the lives of people in their families and communities.
The project has developed over the last two years. At the outset in December 2019, the Learning Ambassadors participated in a Story Exchange training project with Narrative 4, which developed their skills to ‘tell their story’. Following this training, through video interviews the Ambassadors told their own stories of lifelong learning and why they were passionate about becoming a Learning Ambassador. This series of interviews was formally launched through a virtual event with the Mayor of the City and County of Limerick in December 2020.
The flagship event for the festival in May 2021 was a ‘Live Interviews and Panel Discussion’ webinar event with the Learning Ambassadors on the first day to open the festival. One of the Learning Ambassadors, Lylian Fotabong, interviewed her fellow ambassadors, including the ambassadors from Southill, about their learning adventures and future plans for both their careers and continued learning. The interactive interviews were then followed by a panel discussion that included Learning City partners from the Irish Network of Learning Cities.
The ambassadors, three from Southill – Patricia Sheehan, Tom Kearns and Breda Butterfied, and the other five ambassadors across Limerick City and County, were all delighted with the opportunity to be involved in the project over the past two years. They were particularly happy to be honoured with the presentation event and to receive photobooks profiling the development of the project. Speaking at the presentation, Patricia Sheehan, who is one of the ambassadors, said: “Thank you to Learning Limerick and to Southill Family Resource Centre for the opportunity and for this thoughtful photobook. It is a great keepsake and shows how much we have learned and indeed got outside of our comfort zone at the various webinars and festival launch events. I have enjoyed promoting Lifelong Learning as part of this group; and I must say that I am really looking forward to in-person classes and group learning now returning with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.”
Also speaking at the event, Eimear Brophy, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board and Chair of the Learning Limerick Steering Group, said: “I am delighted to acknowledge the important contribution of the Learning Ambassadors here today. I would like to thank our ambassadors from Southill and indeed our other Learning Limerick Ambassadors that have worked with us for this pilot project. We have been impressed with how much they have achieved and undoubtedly our partners have all learned from our ambassadors in the process. As well as bringing information about, and enthusiasm for, learning into communities in the City and County, they can also help the organisations involved in formal and informal learning to understand more about the learning needs and interests at the grassroots. Together we are making a difference and proud that Limerick is a UNESCO Learning City-Region.”