Posted on 24th June 2019
In June 2019, we welcomed 29 students and eight faculty members from Central Georgia Technical College for the first ISAI/CGTC early college program. This was a new initiative specifically for high school students who are dual enrolled, and the program was designed to provide an appropriate environment for high school students taking college courses.
It was a terrific program! First of all, we must acknowledge the hard work that went into the preparation of this program- there was great support from CGTC faculty and their partner High Schools, and we owe many thanks in particular to Mr. Rick Hutto for getting things up and running. Thank you to Dr. and Dr. Jackson, Principal Kellogg, Professor Hughes and Ms. Katherine Reid, who travelled with the group and gave valuable support to this program. We also salute the instructors and leaders at Donegal Adventure Center, which we use as our junior campus. Thank you Eoin, Ciara, Caoife, and a special thanks to Mackey, who was the night duty supervisor.
But the real success of the program was down to the super attitude of the twenty-nine students who came here. We (Niamh & Collie) asked for a positive and kind approach to what we were going to do together, and that’s exactly what happened. Morning classes were greeted with interest and enthusiasm, field trips were joyful learning experiences, and all the activities were ‘great craic’! We have had many many groups of students in our many years of ISAI but this group were exemplary in everything they did, and everyone loved them all!
We worked together on exploring narratives such as Identity, Belief Systems, Culture, Poverty and Social Welfare, Sustainability, Civil Rights and Social Justice. We explored these themes through classes, and visits to Irish historical sites, but we used these experiences to discuss how those same narratives could be found in many experiences within the USA. Our field trips included visits to the O’Donnell Castle in Donegal Town, the early Christian site on Devenish Island, Deserted Famine Villages on the slopes of West Donegal, and the Derry Bogside, where the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement began.
Other activities included a visit to a local farm, and a very much appreciated service project with our local Community garden. We also played GAA hurling, learnt local songs, went surfing and horseback riding, coasteering and climbing, we can now order an Irish breakfast roll at a deli, put on a wetsuit in ten seconds and we all know what ‘good craic’ means!
On our last day, we invited the students to comment on what aspects of the trip was most positive for them. While many of the classes and trips were mentioned, the most rewarding reflection was on the friendships that the students had made, and the impact that the program had on their ideas about what they want their future to look like.
Below are some photos of the trip, – and Collie, John and I would like to say a huge big thanks to all of the people who worked so hard to make this program happen, and we would like to encourage other Community Colleges to think about programs like this for dual-enrolled students; they are so positive, rewarding and life-changing for everyone! And the biggest thank you goes to Aisha, Calli, Andi, Noah, Ansley, Ariel, Ralph, Dylan, Grant, JaNyia, Ethan, Dalton, James, Riley, Sarah, Laila, Kevin, Amanda, Julisa, Nancy, Christina, Annabell, Kelsi, Dillon, Elijah, Mary Grace, Carysta, Raychel and Alyssa. Well done, kids, you were a real pleasure to welcome to Ireland, and you were a credit to your parents, families and school. Be very proud!