Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dr. Nichols Builds Travel-Study Partnerships in Ireland

Vol State President Dr. Nichols has been visiting Ireland and will soon travel to Denmark and the Netherlands. The trip is part of the effort to build relationships and new partnerships for the Vol State International Education program. It's also an opportunity for Dr. Nichols to see international travel-study in action. He has met up with a group of Vol State students in Ireland, traveling with Music Department Chair James Story and International Education Director John Espey. The students are performing in venues across Ireland this month. 

Dr. Nichols has been blogging about his experiences and shares the first three days with us:

Ireland-Day One

Arrived in Dublin after an 7 hour overnight flight. Of course, never really slept but watched several movies. Once in Dublin, took a taxi to the hotel. Interesting that we passed a McDonald's, Burger King, and a Subway on the way to the hotel.

Although we are in Ireland, everything is written in English and most everyone we passed on the street walking to the hotel was speaking English. The Trinity Capital Hotel is old but nice and about 15 minutes walking from the rail station.

Chris and I walked to the rail station on a practice run so we would know how to get there tomorrow when we leave for Thurles. I plan to attend a Rotary meeting in Thurles tomorrow.

Ireland-Day Two

After spending last night in Dublin, went to the Rail station this morning and caught the train to Thurles. We will spend 4 nights here before heading to Denmark. Met with John Espey, Ann-Marie, and the female students at 5 for dinner at St. Patrick's. The women are staying there and dinner is provided. After dinner, Chris and I went to the Thurles Rotary meeting which started at 7:30. This Rotary club has a membership of 14 with 6 in attendance. Spent most of the meeting discussing differences between the States and Ireland. They were very interested in our take on the "Obama Health Care" program. They could not understand why it was such an issue. Here in Ireland, this type of health care is the norm.

After dinner with Rotary, we walked to the local Pub, De Burca, where James Story and many of his students were singing and entertaining the locals. The place is very small but we probably had over 40 to 50 in attendance. We took pictures and will send them soon.

Just got back to our room (1:15 a.m.) and have a busy day tomorrow. We meet with Father Tom from St. Patrick's and then watch James and the singers perform at 1:30.

Ireland-Day Three

Began the morning with breakfast in the hotel. Normal fare, including eggs, toast, fruit, cereals and such. Keep expecting to be exposed to traditional "Irish" food, but perhaps my expectations are not valid.

I continue to be surprised by the prevalence of the English language in Ireland. We went to the local bank to exchange currency and everything was in English. All the printed materials detailing interest rates, promotional items, everything was in English. Many of the sidebar conversations I overheard by the locals were primarily Gaelic with English words common.

While we are staying on the Northern outskirts of town at the Anner Hotel, we are only 20 minutes walking distance from the center of town. Fifteen minutes gets you where the majority of our meetings and events occur.

Met with Dr. John Espey and Father Tom at St. Patrick's this morning to discuss articulations, partnerships, and faculty, staff, and student exchanges. We have been invited back to discuss this in more detail with the faculty on Thursday afternoon.

James Story and his music class will be performing at The Source Arts Center today at 1:30 and we are looking forward to hearing the talents of our students. Their performance has been advertised locally and I am told there should be many locals in the audience.

I mentioned in my last report that Chris and I attended the local Rotary meeting. After this dinner meeting ended we met again at Deburca Pub to watch James Story and his students perform. We will be going back to the same Pub this evening, (starting around 9:30) to watch the locals, including several from the Rotary, perform traditional Irish music.

Many of you know that Chris and I don't really drink or smoke, so the thought of going to a local Pub was tinged with apprehension. Not to worry, Chris actually found Dr. Pepper in one of the local stores, so we drank Dr. Pepper and enjoyed the music and companionship of students and community members. No smoking in the Pub, so that made the time even more enjoyable.

One interesting item after another during our Rotary meeting. Two of the members gave their occupation as "auctioneers". I found that rather interesting that in such a small town they would have that many auctioneers. They were also discussing a fund raiser around something called a "car boot". I should have asked what that was but since we had already monopolized so much of their hour meeting, I remained silent.

Later at Deburca's Pub, I inquired what a "car boot" was. I had wondered how something that you placed on a car's tire to prevent it from leaving (used when the driver has unpaid parking tickets) could be used as a fund raiser. Turns out a car boot is actually a description of bringing items you wish to sell to what we would consider a "flea market" or a "garage sale". The car boot is the car trunk. It also turns out that an "auctioneer" is what we call a real estate agent.

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