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College’s Ireland study abroad program celebrates 40th anniversary

| Friday, September 1, 2017

This fall marks the 40th anniversary of the Maynooth, Ireland, program at Saint Mary’s, making it the longest-running study abroad program at the College, Karen Chambers, associate professor of psychology and faculty coordinator of the Ireland program said.

A week-long celebration of the program’s anniversary is planned in Ireland, Chambers said, including a visit from College President Jan Cervelli, an Ireland tour for program alumnae and a Mass at Maynooth Chapel.

“It’s very hard to get a special Mass scheduled there,” she said. “It’s a great honor to be allowed.”

The celebration will conclude with a dinner for guests, alumnae and current Ireland program students at Barberstown Castle, Chambers said.

Chambers visits Maynooth University — the school where Saint Mary’s students study — every other year, she said. While there, Chambers said, she works with the administrators and professors at Maynooth University to make sure Saint Mary’s students are being taken care of both academically and personally.

“With all of our programs, we try to have personal relationships with the people there,” she said. “That helps us help our students while they are abroad.”

Chambers said students who participate in the study abroad program reap several benefits, including academic ones.

“A fundamental part of a liberal arts education is being able to understand questions from multiple perspectives, and study abroad is living that,” Chambers said. “Academically, students get a richer understanding of culture and the world.”

Most of the students who study abroad in Ireland are sophomores living on their own for the first time, Chambers said.

“Students learn how to cook, budget and travel on their own. That helps them step up into themselves,” she said. “It’s a personally enriching experience.”

Senior Jessica McCartney, who studied in Ireland during her sophomore year, experienced that personal enrichment for herself. She won first prize in the 2016 Study Abroad Essay Competition at Saint Mary’s. The inspiration for her essay came from exploring the world at a young age, she said.

“The inspiration came from a quiet moment of awe,” McCartney said. “ … I was overcome with the awareness of where I was and what I was doing. I was seeing the world, and I wasn’t even 20 years old yet. It was a humbling and exhilarating realization. I couldn’t help but put it into words.”

Junior Elizabeth “E.V.” Dundon, a student who studied in Ireland last spring said she chose to attend Saint Mary’s specifically because she wanted to study abroad in Ireland and learn more about her heritage. She also said the Irish people are welcoming, helpful and curious to learn more about America.

The Ireland program and study abroad provides students with the chance to grow in their self-confidence, Dundon said.

“I learned I could easily take care of myself,” she said. “I learned I could take care of myself and not be worried. I learned I can be confident when traveling. I have a boost of confidence and self-assurance.”

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