Friday, June 6 was our last day of Maymester class – it seemed impossible to all of us that the class was nearly over. Where had the last three weeks gone?! This class was an intense experience but an amazing opportunity to learn in situ and in context– to experience the beauty of these incredible countries (the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland), their unique histories and fabulous people. Every day brought new, wondrous, exciting, and sometimes challenging learning and cultural experiences – those that had been planned and those that were serendipitous discoveries and in context individual and group happenings.
Perhaps you’ve read the student blogs and their powerful intellectual and emotional responses and reactions to some of these in context learning opportunities – the incredibly moving play we saw on mixed marriages (Protestant and Catholic) in Derry, the somber and beautiful exhibit of art inspired and/or informed by The Troubles we went to in Belfast, and the fun and beautiful night of music and pub culture experienced in the Dingle pubs, i.e. All of these events and experiences – planned excursions and in context discoveries, delicious meals, discussions with Irish people, engaging in Irish culture and politics, deep learning about The Troubles and personal stories and putting that into present perspective, the evening at the US Ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park in Dublin, our morning at the Irish Fulbright Commission, our tea with the Bibeanna and the Men of Ventry – helped these students to fall in love with Ireland and to discover, construct and embrace a new world view of themselves and their potential roles as citizens of the world and cultural ambassadors. I am so proud of these students and their commitment to getting everything they could out of this experience and bringing curiosity, grace and respectful inquiry to our process and its product, their insightful and wondrous blogs.
This last day was a free day – students had time to write, edit, contextualize – finish up their last few blog posts, write their final reflections in Canvas, and record their summative VoiceThread discussions about their reflections on how they had changed over the course of this three-week class.
At 4pm, we met in Paudie’s Bar in the Dingle Bay Hotel (their sticky toffee pudding is to die for!) so that students could give their final presentations and order a snack and a pot of tea. We discovered when we got there, that there was a wedding reception scheduled at 5pm, so we got through about half of the presentations before it was too loud and busy to continue. But, in context, it was great fun to see an Irish wedding reception – the fashion, the particular rituals of toasting the bridge and groom, the music and the dancing! We moved on to Lord Baker’s Restaurant, where we were to have our final group dinner – a significant place (this is where, during my Fulbright year in Ireland, I met Maureen Kearney, Martin Kearney’s niece, her husband John Moriarty and their son, Jonathan – owners of Lord Baker’s). We arrived a bit early and asked if we could finish up the presentations before our dinner, and we did just that.
The significance of these final project presentations in this place was so lovely. We had a marvelous dinner, and the student presentations were just incredible. They each did a PechaKucha presentation on a topic that deeply resonated – their presentations were unique, creative and engaging – and they were passionate research, synthesis and contextualizing capstone experiences, owing to our active practice and pedagogy of student-centered learning. Take a look at their blogs to read their reflections on their own work and that of their peers.
Thanks to my wonderful Maymester students for a marvelous and unforgettable learning journey –
Marie Angoulvant – Marie Goes to Ireland
Josh Blair – From Ireland to Paris
Peter Costea – People Places and Adventures in Ireland
Austin Fogle – Ireland Blog
Jazmin Fontenot – And the Journey Begins
Adam Gerken – Adam’s Ireland in Context Blog
Kevie Kawasaki – Adventures Abroad
Suzie Lee – Spectacular Journey In Ireland With Suzie