Last Day of Maymester and Final Projects – Day 19

IMG_2295Friday, 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.

IMG_2301Perhaps 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.

IMG_2303This 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.

IMG_2306At 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


Dingle Pub Night

DSCN3777After a gorgeous day, much learned on the island and deeper connections to the Blasket people built and nurtured, we headed back to the Blasket Centre for a bit and then, after a rest, we all walked into Dingle and did a mini pub-crawl to hear some Irish traditional music. We talked about protocol (very different in the pubs that feature professional traditional musicians from the pubs that feature very good ‘folk’ musicians who often organize a sing-along or incorporate a stand-up act), instrumentation and performance practice, and sean-nós (old-style) singing. Students really enjoyed relaxing after three very intense weeks and a physically rigorous day of being on the island and walking and climbing the steep hills and paths that the islanders once walked and climbed. A good end to a very good day!

Dingle – Day 16

IMG_1988This morning I took everyone on a walking tour of Dingle – it’s a wee town and easily walkable in a short amount of time. I pointed out some favorite little shops and pubs, cafes, and other useful places (hardware store, post office, chemist/drug store, doctor’s office, police station, cleaners, An Lab experimental theatre space, Carol Cronin’s Gallery, Díseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture, Benner’s Hotel where we would have tea after our walk, Paudie’s Bar/Restaurant in the Dingle Bay Hotel where students will give their final project presentations on Friday afternoon, and Lord Baker’s Restaurant where we will all have our farewell dinner on Friday evening – where did these three weeks go?!). And, we took a wee field trip into the gas station to see how different they are from US gas stations. Beautiful food counters that serve hot food and fresh, hand-cut sandwiches all day, made to order. Delicious, and nothing at all like the rows of fast food and junk we have in the US (although there are those here, as well). They were amazed and a long discussion ensued (learning in context is a powerful and most relevant model).

IMG_2047It was a lovely, sunny day, and after a glorious walk we found comfy chairs in Benner’s Hotel for tea and a good overview of the magical three days ahead of us – our last three days of Maymester. We also talked about FCQs, a survey sent from CU Denver asking about the Maymester experience for faculty and students, our last few blog assignments, the final VoiceThread discussion, the final reflection, and the final presentations. And, we talked a bit about change – the power of change and the amazing changes that happened to all of us (individually and as a group) over the last three weeks. We broke off and went, in small duos and trios, in search of lunch – with plans to meet at the Dingle Cinema at 1:45.

To Dingle – Day 15

IMG_1984This was a long travel day, but a good day. We had three bus changes – and although that was a bit tricky, we managed everything very well and found that there was time to rest, read, reflect and enjoy the beautiful scenery and ruined tower houses/castles – the small villages, the larger towns, small family farms, village churches, rivers, the seam and wild, rural places all along our route from Galway to Dingle).

We started out in Galway and took the X51 express bus to Limerick. Then on to Tralee on the number 13 bus and into Dingle on the number 275 bus – quite a journey! Students were well stocked with Irish snacks of all sorts and by the time we got to Dingle, it was time for an early dinner. We checked into the Dingle Harbour Lodge, a comfy place overlooking the beautiful Dingle Harbour and just a few minutes walk from all the shops, stores and pubs in Dingle. Students went out to explore and grab a quick bite of dinner, then home to blog. We all slept well after a bit of a grueling travel day.

I was so excited to arrive in Dingle – and full of joy and anticipation for what the next few days in and around Dingle and Dún Chaoin would bring. Learning and the beginning of wonderful, deep connections to this place and these people were in store!

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

IMG_0563The beautiful Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane houses a collection on modern and contemporary Irish and International art – located in Charlemont House on Parnell Square in a neo-classical town house designed in 1765 by William Chambers for James Caulfield, the first Earl of Charlemont.

The Gallery’s collection includes the renowned Hugh Lane bequest of 39 French paintings shared with the National Gallery in London, including masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Morisot. The collection also includes works presented by artists who were sympathetic to Lane’s vision – among them, the Irish artists Roderic O’Connor and Jack B. Yeats (one of my favorite).

I especially enjoyed three exhibits.

The Stained Glass Room and Harry Clark’s beautiful stained glass work, The Eve of St. Agnes, is exquisite. During many trips to Dingle, Co. Kerry, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about and viewing Clark’s gorgeous windows in the Díseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture (Ionad Spioradáltachta agus Cultúir Ghaelaigh).

The Sean Scully Room contains a collection of significant paintings from the 1980s to today and is bathed in natural light. It was great to see these gorgeous, nuanced, massive paintings – I have several of Scully’s books and love his work.

The Francis Bacon Studio complex consists of the artist’s studio relocated from London to Dublin (1998), his unfinished works, Melvyn Bragg’s celebrated interview with Francis Bacon in his studio, a very cool micro-gallery with interactive touch screens providing insights into Bacon’s studio materials and artifacts. It was fascinating to hear/see Bacon talking about his artistic process and to read about his approach to art-making and the importance of a chaotic creative studio environment.

IMG_0565The café and bookshop were delightful – here’s my photo of the bright and airy courtyard in the gallery’s new wing. I love Irish architecture and the use of glass to let in light. I had a tasty, light lunch of chicken and lentil soup and brown bread – a perfect capstone to the gallery visit.

Accommodations Booked

Warrenpoint, Co. DownAs of today, I have all of our accommodations booked for the Maymester trip! I am really excited for students to have this amazing opportunity to see many, many parts of this beautiful country. We’ll begin in Dublin and head to Belfast and Derry, then on to Galway — and finally, we’ll end this fabulous Maymester experience in Dingle and Dunquin, Co. Kerry.

Take a look at the Accommodations page above to see where we’ll be staying in each city. We’re only 11 weeks away!

Take a look at the free mapping viewer from Ordnance Survey Ireland.

Photo credit — Ireland of the Welcomes | Facebook