When I wrote to Colleen Duby, Executive Director of the Fulbright Commission in Dublin, to arrange a tour of the Dublin Fulbright Offices and an overview of Fulbright for my students, she told me that during the week we would all be in Dublin, there were a few special Fulbright events happening. Tom Healy, Chairman of the US Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, would be in Ireland for a few days and I would be invited to both Fulbright events and would be invited to perform at one of them. The first event, a reception in honor of the Fulbright & Ireland – the United States Commission Awards, would be held at the US Ambassador’s Residence in Phoenix Park. The second, a showcase performance of Fulbright writers and performers, would be held at The Ark in the Temple Bar District. I asked Colleen if my students could also receive invitations so they could come along with me. A few days before the event, everyone got invitations from the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America.
You can read the student blogs to see how captivated, excited (and a little nervous) and proud they were to be invited to this amazing event. They were thrilled to be able to be present in this beautiful and historic home, and they were delighted to be able to meet Tom Healy – a wonderful poet and a very nice man. Colleen introduced me to him and he was keen to meet all of my students and asked if we could all have a photo taken, together. We did manage that later in the evening, and I’ll get it posted as soon as Tom’s photographer sends it along. Tom was extremely gracious and took some time on a very busy evening to shake the hand of each student, to ask their names and where they were from and if they might consider Fulbright as a strategy for graduate school. We talked about the importance of developing and ethos that embraces world citizenship and I can see my students opening up, more and more, to wider and deeper ideas about their futures.
It was an amazing evening – the weather was gorgeous and we had a hilarious taxi driver that ferried us through Phoenix Park to the Residence (and came back to pick us. afterwards). It was the first time he’d ever been through the gates and he was delighted! We were all subject to a name check, and guards using under-vehicle mirrors checked the vehicle as well. There were delicious little nibbles being served and I met and talked with many interesting people – government officials, Fulbright and Embassy staff, and current and former Fulbright. The newly awarded Irish Fulbright Scholars (students and professors) for the coming academic year were presented and there were a number of short speeches by attending dignitaries. People then headed outside to the 62-acre garden in the middle of Phoenix Park, Europe’s largest park for a gorgeous view, some tasty nibbles, and some lovely conversation. It was a big day – Dublin Castle tour, our first group lunch at the Silk Road Café, a our of the Chester Beatty Library, and this incredible, magical reception. A very, very good day!
Did you know that the US Embassy in Dublin is 50 years old? You can watch the celebration video, here. We walked by the embassy on our way to the Fulbright Commission on our first morning in Dublin – almost a week ago! Sunday morning, we’re off to Belfast to learn more about Northern Ireland’s history and culture, and background to ‘The Troubles’.
You can follow Tom Healy’s blog, here.
Photo credit: Ambassador’s Residence, US Embassy in Dublin, Ireland