She is excited that such a small city on the Atlantic coast, with a population of 80,000, will be at the heart of Europe throughout the year.
“What I love about the Capital of Culture is that it is local, national, and international at the same time,” she says.
“As an Italian, living here for a long time, I feel very strongly about the European connection. Ireland is an island, and Galway is at the western fringe of that island, but at the same time I believe that Galway people are very European. Not by chance is Ireland called ‘the Mediterranean of the north’!”
She says that English language students who come to Galway are blown away by the culture as soon as they arrive. They see the buskers on the streets, hear the traditional music in the pubs, and are made aware of the city’s wonderful theatre scene.
“I think students come to Galway because of the rich culture, people tell their friends that they have to come here, and it’s now such an amazing opportunity for foreign students to volunteer with the European Capital of Culture,” she explains.
She tells language students in Galway that volunteering is a great way of making new friends, meeting locals, and having fun away from the city’s world-famous pubs.
She wants long-term GCI students, or those who have a high level of English, to think about becoming a ‘Wave Maker’ in 2020. The volunteer ‘Wave Makers’ will be the face of Galway 2020 and welcome both artists and visitors to the city throughout the year.
“We will provide students with special training, we will allow them to become ambassadors for Galway, and I think volunteering with Galway 2020 will provide fantastic opportunities for language students,” Elena tells the GCI blog.
“I think volunteering is one of the best ways for students to meet Irish people. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment, but in those few hours per week or month you can learn new skills, meet new people, establish relationships, and make wonderful friends.”
The minimum age for a volunteer is 18 years and Elena would like her team of ‘Wave Makers’ to make a commitment of at least a couple of months.