Urban Expression – Innovative Cultural Immersion

Imagine walking into your first day of class, in a new country and your professor tells you that in just 14 quick weeks you’ll be putting on an event in Dublin. That’s exactly what happened to me and my fellow classmates. Fast forward to the end of November and we can now reflect on that same task and proudly say, “we did it!”

This semester, Champlain Abroad Dublin‘s Creative Dublin class was given the daunting- yet delightful- challenge of putting together an arts event from start to finish. This project was undoubtedly, one of the most in-depth and hands-on projects any of us have ever done at Champlain College thus far. During one of our first classes we split into two groups. Each group talked about what their ideal event would look like. Then, we came together as one and discussed how to combine all of our ideas into one seamless event. After that, we hit the ground running.

We decided we wanted slam poetry, music and an art gallery. To effectively achieve this, we came up with the idea of Urban Expression;  a one-night event that highlighted the paths we have taken to get to where we are today. Through photography, visual art, slam poetry and music our aim was to show that each individual is on a unique journey. We made sure the event was free and filled with  both American and Irish artists and fellow Champlain students. We even managed to snag one of Dublin’s biggest graffiti artists to do a live piece.

Dublin graffiti artist Fink during Urban Expression.

Although our class was only 9 students, we each brought something unique to the table. Our majors consist of Communications, Marketing, Management and Innovation, Business Administration, Graphic Design, Professional Writing and Broadcasting and Streaming Media meaning that both the Robert P. Stiller School of Business and the division of Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College were represented.

With each of our special niches, we were able to break up different tasks and really get our creativity flowing.  From picking a venue to creating a message, designing posters, booking artists, finding and pitching to sponsors, budgeting and more- we did it all. This project truly utilized each of our skills and threw us into the real world.

“If you could share something with someone who you just met on the street, but will never see again, what would it be?”

The week before our event we were busy running around Dublin handing out posters, gathering materials and asking people we passed on the street to fill out a postcard. The postcard was anonymous and played a big part in our event. Inspired by Candy Chang’s ‘Before I Die’ art piece,  we collectively came up with the question “If you could share something with someone who you just met on the street, but will never see again, what would it be?” to use as the basis for an interactive art piece.  When out in a coffee shop asking people to fill them out, we ran into a writer for Dublin’s LeCool magazine . Steph was so interested in our event she decided to write about us. Urban Expression gained free publicity just for being in the right place at the right time!

On the big night, November 19,  Urban Expression had over 90 individuals in attendance.  Champlain students, Dubliners, tourists and other international students came together to see live graffiti, slam poetry and art from around the world; what is cooler than that!?

Stephen James Smith – Dublin-based spoken words poet and writer.
Work from Peter Cirilli – Vermont based Photographer, Champlain College, Graphic Design’16
Work from Caoimhghin Ocroidheain, Dublin based artist and Champlain College faculty member.
Champlain Abroad Dublin’s Creative Dublin class with their professor, Ian Oliver, and Dublin graffiti artist, Fink (standing left).
Niall Colfer, Irish musician and Champlain Faculty member

My fellow classmates and I have deemed Urban Expression a success and can’t believe how much we accomplished in just a semester. Urban Expression gave us the truest form of innovative cultural immersion and life skills a group of college students could ask for. A part of me wishes I could relive the night all over again, but without a doubt there’s a part of me wondering what can we accomplish next?

Amanda Girard – Champlain College, Professional Writing’17
Meghan Driscoll, Champlain College, Criminal Justice’17
Aaron Kuchrawy, Champlain College, Business Administration’17



More Dublin
Getting Through Immigration
Course Highlight: Advanced Art History – Creative Dublin
Student Driven Tour!