January 2005 Reflection

The time frame for this journal entry, November-January, started off on an extremely low point for me: the November 2 elections. I am grateful for the ideological diversity of our Mitchell class, but I have to admit I was personally devastated about most of the races from the top of the ticket all the way down to my SC state and local races. I spent most of November emotionally recuperating and trying to rekindle my optimism about the possibilities of American politics. When I wasn’t contemplating America’s future, I was preparing for my own in the form of a spring Masters thesis and fall law school matriculation. Dublin, like any hometown, has ceased being exotic and has become the backdrop for my mundane life.

December brought tough exams, chilly weather, and hot heaps of grits (for my Equality Studies friends who dared try my cooking.) Equality Studies at UCD continues to be my very favorite thing about Ireland, closely followed by Cornucopia, Cadbury Snacks and Pepsi Max. All of my professors, even the extremely accomplished chair of the Centre (Kathleen Lynch), have us use only their first names. At first I was uncomfortable with this and even found it distracting, but it’s been amazing to see how such a “small” thing can bring about an egalitarian learning environment. In early December, most of the folks in my department headed over to Kathleen’s for a potluck dinner featuring singalongs and intense conversation until 6:00 AM! I’ve had many fun times in Ireland, but that was probably my favorite night thus far. In short, I am incredibly fortunate to be an Equality Studies student – even if I’ll be explaining what it is for the rest of my career!

I stayed in Ireland over the holidays. The first couple of days, I went to visit one of my roommates in her home county of Waterford (yes, of Waterford Crystal fame.) She lives on a family farm in Dungarven. This was my first time traveling in Ireland outside of Dublin in a non-Mitchell capacity, and I must say that I loved Dungarven. It is in a Gaelteacht region, and the “Irishness” of the place was much more tangible than in Dublin. The night I spent there was my second favorite Dublin night…not that every night is subject to a ranking system. After spending a week back at UCD, I then went to Galway for five days to ring in the New Year with fellow Mitchell Michael Gale. Being a cold weather wimp, Galway was an experience for me – I never wanted to leave the apartment! Consequently, we watched lots of DVDs and chatted politics with his roommates, who are decidedly more conservative than my classmates and roommates. New Year’s was “good craic” and “brilliant”, as they say.

I’ve also started volunteering with AkiDwA, an organization for African women in Ireland. The extent of my volunteerism is very loose; I am creating and entering names and organizations into a database for the group, and my next project is revamping their brochure. I can do most of these things from my personal computer, so it is not time-consuming, but I know it’s very useful. Hopefully there will be many fun AkiDwA stories in later entries.

I would like to again thank my friends at Furman University, the South Carolina Democratic Party, University College Dublin, the donors, and of course, the US-Ireland Alliance for allowing me to take this great opportunity.

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