“My only son was shot in Dublin,” I heard as I stepped onto Saint Patrick’s Street. I turned and followed the melodic strains drifting through the air, and as I got closer, I saw an elderly bearded man strumming his guitar with captivating precision. This then led to a 25-minute conversation as he spoke to me about his journey and how he had remixed the 1967 Irish Rebel song to be fast-paced, breathing new life into the original melody.
These past two months have been a whirlwind of adventures and experiences. Through conversation and exploration, I’ve been learning more about the world. Grasping the rules of rugby from my new Irish friends, I saw and felt their sadness and nostalgia after Jonathan Sexton retired, and Ireland was knocked out the quarter-finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. My new friends from Germany taught me about how different their schooling and upbringing was. As my flatmates and I played billiards or pool late into the night, we shared our perspectives and talked about the similarities and differences between our countries, our emotions and fears, the current state of the world, what our position in it was, and what we hoped for the future. I’ve also begun saying new words/phrases such as ‘What’s the craic,’ ‘It’s grand/class,’ ‘Sláinte,’ and ‘ye (meaning you).’
In class, I learn the programs, initiatives, and organizations, the government of Ireland has funded in the hope of a better healthcare future, including “Healthy Ireland.” I learn how comprehensive data collection is in Ireland and the census that takes place every 5-years. I learn about Direct Provision, migrant health, and what Ireland is doing to support refugees. I learn more about health economics and philosophy along with thinking of public health through the lens of population vs. high-risk, low-agency vs. high-agency, and upstream vs. downstream strategies. I learn that Estonia has one of the best electronic-health-record (EHR) systems in the world and the EU’s unique efforts to implement a system that enables accessibility and sharing of health information across borders. From my classmates and friends from Mexico, Switzerland, Italy, Korea, Singapore, Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria, South Africa, and DR Congo, I learn different people’s stories, culture, language, music, and also how their health systems differ. These perspectives have not only further emphasized that there’s more that can and should be done, but also how we can improve our own system by learning from what other countries are doing.
My hunger for change has thus only grown, and it necessitates further action. Being away has also at times naturally brought about a sort of longing for home. But hearing the howling and prevailing southern-westerly winds from the Atlantic, I’m feeling grateful for the wonderful new friendships, moments, and experiences I’ve had so far across the ocean:
My fellow Mitchells are so much fun, and getting to know each one of these incredible individuals has been amazing as we’ve bonded and become a tight group of friends:
Reception at the Irish Royal Academy:
We visited Kilmainhaim Gaol jail and heard the stories of Irish revolutionaries along with a remarkable story of love (Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford):
Alex and Vivek imprisoned in a cell at Kilmainhaim Gaol jail:
Somewhere Out There You Debuts at the Abbey Theatre:
Jazz Night with new friends from Germany, Ireland (Kilkenny), and Zimbabwe:
Meeting Senator George J. Mitchell in the same room where the Irish constitution was drafted and becoming inspired by his journey and impact:
My flatmate teaching me how to trampoline and do a back-flip (I fell on my face a lot):
My classmates and I grabbing a bite to eat:
Strolling the streets of Dublin and Cork: