Last summer I journeyed to Dublin to study for six weeks with the Dublin Summer Program. Before crossing the sea, I had little to no knowledge of Ireland’s impressive history and culture aside from leprechauns, St. Patrick, and clovers. Thanks to Professors Kevin Whelan and PJ Matthews, I did not remain naïve for long. My fellow Domers and I absorbed lectures in O’Connell House, on the hexagonal columns of Giants Causeway, and during lengthy “walks” up mountains, through fields, and across rivers. These adventures lead to life-changing friendships and a new found appreciation for positive attitudes and determined minds.
After studying abroad, my Instagram changed from awe-inspiring mountains to artsy coffee cups. This gave me the impression I was growing up and the adventure was over. My life was consumed by the MCAT and medical school applications; however, everything came back into perspective when I received an email from Professor Whelan announcing I had been accepted into the Irish Internship Program. Here I was with the chance to “grow-up” but also to continue my adventure! Yes, I was nervous the experience could not compare to last summer, scared to have a nine-to-five job, sad to leave my family for a second summer, but I was also energized to dive into Irish culture and work side-by-side with the Irish people.
Keeping my emotions in check and planning ahead like all good Domers do, I packed in less than twenty-four hours and jetted over to Dublin for round two. I was greeted by Domino’s pizza, a smiling O’Connell House Staff, and a wave of nostalgia. I was back and it felt so good. I have spent the past eight weeks working with Relay For Life at the Irish Cancer Society, Ireland’s largest voluntary funder of cancer research where the ultimate goal is to eliminate cancer. I am surrounded by co-workers who periodically chant, “We won’t give up until cancer does!” In other words, it has been a motivating and fruitful summer.
At the beginning of the program, Professor Whelan encouraged us to learn from Kairos, the Greek God of opportunity, and seize the chance before us and to make America, our families, and the University of Notre Dame proud. Although a lofty goal, I think I can safely say this group of Notre Dame Irish interns have done just that. We have explored Ireland by surfing in Donegal, kayaking the River Liffey, café crawling around Dublin, blazing trails up Sugarloaf Mountain, and hiking Connemara. But we have done more than explore, we have made a difference. This group of interns has helped develop video games for kids with anxiety, compiled a book of parish diagnostics for Dublin clergy, monitored the Department of Foreign Affairs reconciliation fund, covered the World Cup with RTE, explored Gay Rights and Disability Rights in Ireland, researched for authors writing historical books, and the list goes on. We have truly maximized our time in Ireland and we have become great friends while doing so. Thank you to the University of Notre Dame, the O’Connell House Staff, the donors, and our families for the trip of a lifetime. You have given us many miles of Irish smiles. Go Irish!