Posted on 30th March 2017
Preparing for this trip I did not really have set expectations. I had so much going on that I did not really take the time to think about what the experience would be like, and, as the date of our departure came closer, my excitement built from mentioning it to people more and the realization of the whole thing was starting to hit me. Overall, the trip exceeded any expectations I could have had and I experienced so much more than I could have imagined.
I’m not sure where to start, but I adore our hosts Niamh and John. Arriving to Ireland, John welcomed me and was so courteous as to carry my broken luggage for me (it was a rolling suitcase, but the pull out handle had jammed) and I was given the chance to chat with him as we waited for the Nebraska students to arrive. I am very appreciative of that because I was able to make that connection with John where I had not had the chance with Niamh. Niamh was truly amazing though! I always looked forward to her lectures and I had found them so fun and intriguing. You can tell that she has a lot of passion for the subject and she taught it so charismatically. Not only that, but she was hilarious and talented too! She became very inspiring to me and I find her to be a dynamite female role model.
Having the lectures before our excursions proved to be very helpful in gaining a full understanding of the lesson and history that was presented. Everything we had learned was quite new to me as well. Lessons that touched me the most were the ones about the famine, emigration, and ‘Bloody Sunday’. As well, it was one thing to learn about the events through lecture, but to experience where they had happened in person as well was very powerful and I think it is safe to say that it had an effect on everyone. I found the trip to Derry an emotional one, especially with the explanation of the murals. I had already felt my heartstrings tugging as Niamh explained each mural. When we had gotten to the second to last mural that has the two men and their mothers, I had wondered what the little girl was pointing at and had thought maybe she was pointing as the men as to blame them. When Niamh explained that, she was pointing forward at the Peace Mural my heart just exploded with love and awe. I found that so special, and that was probably my favorite part of that excursion. I also loved listening to Mora talk about emigration and the way she kind of “acted” it out really touched my heart as well.
Just about any outside activities had me hyped up because I was usually able to play and explore. The abbey and Catsby Cave, and Glencar Falls were some of my favorite areas because they had reminded me of a fairytale story and it had felt like fairies and other storybook creatures could have been roaming around the area. The views we had access to were just unbelievable as well. The evening we had went to Mullaghmore was perfectly breathtaking, and had looked like a dream.
We had the perfect group of people as well. I thought that we had meshed so well with the Nebraska students and it was such a joy to get to know them, as well as my fellow CAC students. If I had a regret, it would be that I didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity to connect with everyone who was on the trip. While I did make those connections and new friendships, I also spent a lot of time on my own. In which, I did not mind, but I had started to realize near the end of the trip that we would all be going our separate ways and we, in particular, would not have that group experience again. Engaging with people in the community was one of the best aspects about the trip for me as well. That helped me feel a lot more immersed into the town and culture and it felt almost like home. During the parade, I think there about three people within the crowd that recognized me as we paraded down the street! Anyway, there is so much more that could be said but that’s what came to mind first.
My experience in Ireland will forever be special to my heart! –Jody Duta