We are well into the second semester, and we’ve settled into an academic groove here in Limerick. Last semester started slowly but finished strong with a grueling set of final examinations, lengthy papers and tough presentations. Without a doubt, the intensity of the latter half of the first semester has spilled over into the second.
My studies in Human Rights in Criminal Justice are fascinating. As we pull apart, and examine, the international legal system in an age of terror, we also study how elements in the international system struggle to balance notions of liberty, security and equality. As I home in on a topic for my course dissertation, I am compelled by the tangled, and often messy, debates taking place within the international legal community around issues like terrorism and the global drug trade. In some ways, these debates are frightening because they reveal how imperfect – and sometimes, how inadequate – our responses are to the modern challenges of the 21st century. But these debates are also invigorating because they reveal the many ways in which we can shape and impact the future.
Equally interesting are the viewpoints and opinions held by my Irish classmates. Despite the fact that terrorism has long been a part of Irish life, my peers, on the whole, tend toward the left in their political viewpoints: they vehemently disapprove of the authoritative, muscular States that have emerged in response to the global “war on terror.” Discussing these matters while also representing the challenges we are confronting at home, in America, in our own “war on terror” has made for interesting discussion in both the classroom and in the campus pub.
Another highlight of the last few months has been travel. I’ve had the opportunity to explore more of Europe (England, France and Italy) and more recently, Central America (Mexico). In the coming months, I am looking forward to traveling (again) to Northern Ireland and for the first time, to Belgium. I am most looking forward to seeing the other Mitchell Scholars again, soon (my life in Limerick is quiet; our Mitchell cohort is…energetic). The all-time highlight of my time here in Ireland has been organized events with other Mitchell Scholars. We’ve had tremendous opportunity to enjoy the island (cooking classes in Cork, Guinness Brewery in Dublin) and have been lucky to spend time with a number of Irish luminaries and dignitaries (talking about you, Paul).
On the whole, the last several months have been about broadening my personal horizons through thought and travel. With trips to N. Ireland and to Belgium rapidly approaching and with my dissertation taking shape (and an increasing amount of time), I am looking forward to more of both.