March 2008 Reflection

It is very hard to believe that it is already March. I’m sure nearly all of the Mitchell journals have started off with that statement. The days have just peeled off the calendar. I’m sure it’s the combination of a quick year of classes, a new city, new faces, and travel that have really compressed the year. Regardless, it’s been great, and I’ll be very sorry to see it end in a few months.

As I write, we are just a few days away from St. Patrick’s Day. I imagine St. Patty’s Day in Dublin will be quite a sight, but I will only be able to speculate since I’m currently in Vernazza, Italy, on the Ligurian Coast. I had a couple of weeks off of classes, and my fiancĀ» came in for a visit and we took off for our first trip to continental Europe. We spent some time with family in Germany and came down to the Cinque Terre on a 25 Euro RyanAir flight. The weather has been fantastic and there has been some great hiking between the five villages that make up this stretch of the Mediterranean coast. As far as first trips to continental Europe go, we aren’t doing too badly.

In the coming weeks life will be getting real busy. All of my courses will be wrapping up in April, with all my papers due and exam preparation beginning. But I’m most looking forward to the historic 10th year anniversary event in Belfast of the Good Friday Peace Agreement. Not only will this be a great chance to get together with Mitchell Scholars current and past, but to be part of such an interesting historical event is going to be amazing and the kind of opportunity that you can’t place value upon or repeat (unlike, hopefully, a trip to the Italian Riviera).

Along with heading to Belfast and wrapping up my program, I’ve been preparing for my thesis and life next year. I’m headed to Swaziland in June to do some research on HIV prevention programming, and partly funding the trip with the generous travel stipend available through the Mitchell Program. It will be a great opportunity to visit my former friends and coworkers in Swaziland and catch up with my Swazi family from my Peace Corps days. After completing my thesis I’m moving with my fiancĀ», Carrie, to Malawi, where she is posted as a pediatrician with the Baylor University Pediatric AIDS Initiative. Malawi is an interesting and poor country sandwiched between East and Southern Africa that deals with the gamut of public health and development issues. We are excited about our next move, and I am sending out a half dozen resumes a week looking for a job there, in addition to the domestic role I’ll be playing in Carrie’s house.

I can’t express my gratitude to the US-Ireland Alliance and the Mitchell Scholarship Program for the opportunities I’ve been afforded over the last year. I’ll have a busy next few years moving around and finding my way in a career in development, and I can’t imagine a better way to get that started than spending this last year living and learning in Ireland.

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