Posted on 3rd March 2020
It began at a Worldview Conference at Forsyth Tech, NC, when Niamh met Charlé, and a plan was hatched! How effective would it be if leaders in education in North Carolina were to actually ‘do’ a study abroad program in Ireland, network with Irish leaders in Education, visit cultural and academic sites, experience some of the things students could experience, and engage in workshops and discussions. ‘Would it work’ said Charlé? It would, said Niamh!
And so, a few months later, Ireland welcomed the following guests –
Elkin City Schools
Halifax County Schools
Director of Curriculum, Research, and Global-Ready Services
Onslow County Schools
Duplin County Schools
Person County Schools
Duplin County Schools
Onslow County Schools
Dean of Arts and Sciences
College of The Albermarle
UNC World View
UNC World View
Pitt Community College
Lenoir County Public
It was a fantastic experience for us all. We began in Dublin, with an introduction to the Irish Education System from ISAI directors Dr. Niamh Hamill and John O’Connell, followed by visit to the Ireland Epic Museum, for some background on the rich and fruitful connections between Ireland and the global Diaspora. A group dinner in the Old Storehouse in Dublin’s Temple Bar got us all engaged and purposeful about the work ahead.
On day two, we began with a visit to Elementary School Scoil Mológa, which is an Irish Language primary school. Principal Daire Mac Pháidín had organised a wonderful presentation by his students, who performed some songs, fiddle-playing and dancing for our group, and then spoke about the challenges of bilingual education in Ireland. We then continued on to the North West, via Newgrange, one of Ireland’s most ancient and impressive sites.
We arrived at the Institute of Study Abroad Campus in the evening, for a debrief and dinner.
On day three, Dr. Hamill presented on the function of shared narratives and storytelling in academic study abroad planning. She used, as an example, the shared narratives of the American and Northern Irish Civil Rights movements in the 1960s. To reinforce this discussion, and experience the impact of teaching days like this, we travelled to Derry City, home of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement. We had a very moving presentation from John Kelly at the Museum of Free Derry, about the Bloody Sunday March, and subsequent fight for justice. We also visited the Guild Hall and Derry Walls.
On Day 4, Dr. Pamela Senegal led a Worldview Workshop for faculty, and then we were off to Letterkenny Institute of Technology to meet President Paul Hannigan, VP for Research, Equality and External Affairs John Andy Bonar, and Dr. Isobel Cunningham, who had put together an excellent morning of informative presentations on the role of Letterkenny IT. This was followed by lunch and a guided tour of Glenveagh Castle.
On Day 5, we had two workshops- a Worldview workshop led by Superintendent Brent Williams, and a presentation on Institutional, Faculty and Student Fear of Study Abroad by Dr. Hamill. We then left for a tour of Yeats Country, Sligo, en route back to Dublin.
On Day 6, our group was hosted by Professor Liam Kennedy at the Clinton Institute of American Studies at University College Dublin. Our keynote speaker was Mary Hanafin, former Minister for Education, and she was superb! We were also delighted to have John Boyle, General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation join us for an enlightening talk about the role of unions in education. Enda Carroll from UDC Global and Emma Loughney from Fulbright Ireland also delivered excellent presentations.
After lunch, we were treated to an informative presentation by Aisling Carney of the American Chamber of Commerce, and the seminar finished with an illuminating discussion of Irish and American geopolitics with Professor Kennedy.
Our last formal appointment was in Club Na Muinteori, ‘The Teachers’ Club’, home of many educational decisions, agitations, schemes and dreams!
Thank you for the amazing experiences in Ireland that will last a lifetime! I have returned from our journey inspired both professionally and personally. I am so grateful to have had the wonderful opportunity to travel around such a beautiful country and meet such interesting people. This trip far exceeded my expectations and it was an honor to be in the company of such great leaders in education. Duplin County Schools is excited for continued collaboration with World View and our new friends in Ireland to take global education to the next level!
With sincere gratitude,
The UNC World View Leaders in Education Program in Ireland in February 2020 exceeded expectations. Niamh and John arranged school and university dialogue as well as cultural visits. These experiences really brought to life our shared humanity.
Although we may come from different backgrounds, we all share similar goals to improve education and quality of life. Niamh and John made it possible for us to connect in new and meaningful ways with school leaders in Ireland to share, connect, grow and equip others. #sharedhumanity
Grateful beyond measure,Susanne Long
I hold a piece of Ireland in my heart! You and John have so much to do with that. You were excellent leaders, teachers and guides. Now, friends. My wheels are spinning about how to sponsor a group of teachers/admins to attend a week-long event at ISAI. My experience was so meaningful that I want the same thing for my teaching faculty and administrators. The presentations were so thoughtfully prepared and shared with our group prior to each field trip that I felt the history “come alive” once we arrived on site. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
The Institute’s broad-based, interdisciplinary approach to study abroad provides participants with holistic learning opportunities even in niche programs. As an educational leader, I was particularly impressed with the power of storytelling prominently displayed by the staff as well as by members of their partner organizations. I highly recommend ISA Ireland as a setting for transformative experiences for both student study abroad and staff professional development.
Thanks for everything!
Thank you for a wonderful week! The program you put together for our group was a wonderful learning experience for me. The week had had a great blend of planned events and time for you to experience Ireland from your own lens. After being a participant myself, I would definitely trust my staff and students to be a part of any program the Institute of Study Abroad Ireland puts together. Thank you for all you do and I look forward to bringing my own group to share the same experiences.
From start to finish, every element of this trip was thoughtfully executed, ensuring that we returned home with a clear understanding of Ireland’s cultural, political, and historical significance and our interconnections. We look forward to bringing future groups of students here to expand their global competence.
Pamela G. Senegal.
Here are some pics!