Study abroad opportunity advances students' drive for global politics
Just over 100 years ago, Ireland split into two governing forces: Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, acting as a member of the European Union.
Through the study abroad program Politics and Culture of Ireland, Arizona State University students are able to experience the forces of these two separate jurisdictions and how they contrast in the political realm.
The two-week summer program, led by School of Politics and Global Studies Associate Professor Thorin Wright and Senior Lecturer Tara Lennon, is saturated with immersive activities that allow students to gain knowledgeable depth of how politics shaped historical Irish culture in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland.
“This program gave me the chance to view the world with a wider lens. To be able to see the world more broadly and be able to make comparisons and differences with another country has been very important,” said political science major Freddy Hornung.
Hornung was grateful for the opportunity to study abroad because of the ability to make personal connections with faculty and peers for the first time since the pandemic.
Dominic Elliott, another program participant studying political science and global studies, felt he was able to make authentic connections from the program because of how engaging it was.
Going into the program, Elliott expected to mostly participate in a classroom setting.
“I was surprised that we did not do this and instead had a more hands-on approach to learning. We were also able to have a more intimate relationship with the subject through our amazing tour guides,” he said.
The students visited Dublin and Belfast to see landmarks like the Kilmainham Gaol Museum and experience the Unionist parades to deepen their understanding of how Irish culture connects to politics.
Gaining insight outside the classroom helped both students better think about politics through a global lens.
“To learn about the passion and tenacity that the Irish people have when it comes to politics and freedom really ignited the drive I have to participate and affect politics here at home,” Hornung said.
Elliot was inspired to utilize his future political science degree to work in international diplomacy.
“The United States played a huge role in the peace process in Northern Ireland, so to continue that peace, partially due to America's involvement, would be an amazing thing to be a part of,” Elliott said.
Traveling abroad was a way for the students to challenge what they thought they knew and escape thier comfort zone.
“The professors were amazing, and the activities that we did were all interesting and engaging in a way I never thought possible. It was worth every minute and every dollar,” Hornung said.