Sacred Heart University students studying in Luxembourg recently helped the Red Cross open its very first thrift store there.
Students taking a study-abroad course in intercultural communications at SHU’s Luxembourg campus assisted several non-profits that support Syrian and Iraqi refugee families. The Red Cross shop will provide reduced-priced items, as well as vintage finds, and proceeds will support the organization’s programs.
“I didn’t realize, going into the course, that we would be working with nonprofits such as the Red Cross,” said Alessandra Setaro ’17, a communications and media arts major. “It was truly an amazing experience. We arrived one week before the shop’s soft opening, and it was nowhere near ready for customers. Our class helped fold and organize clothes, separated them into their designated sections of the shop, built shelves and moved heavy boxes.”
Setaro said she found the experience beneficial because she was able to see the world in a different way. With the desire to become a news anchor, Setaro said she wants to understand how countries operate, because “the news happens everywhere.”
“I hope to travel a lot with my career, and I felt that this trip would be the perfect way to test the waters,” Setaro said. She added she would return to Luxembourg “in a heartbeat.”
“The intercultural communications course fits in nicely with service learning as students have an opportunity to volunteer and get to know people they would not have exposure to,” said Matthew Kaye, director of Volunteer Programs & Service Learning, who also taught the two-week summer session course in Luxembourg. He said the class was exposed to issues and solutions that aren’t always common in a course like intercultural communications, such as refugee and immigrant services and the personal effects of war. “It is my hope that students walked away from the experience with a developed sense of who they are culturally and how they individually fit into a global workforce,” Kaye said.
Red Cross employees showed the SHU students a presentation that focused on how they could bridge home culture and needs with Luxembourg resources. “The Red Cross’s ability to operate with a high level of intercultural communications is necessary in reaching its goals and following through with its mission,” Kaye said. “The SHU students were able to engage these community development experts as a means of connecting intercultural communications theory to real-world application.”