I’ve always thought that being mindful of one’s blessings reaps rewards for mental health and spirit. Finding ways to be thankful brings assurance and perspective to testy times and can help a person recognize – even maximize –unique opportunities whenever they arise. As a Mitchell Scholar in Ireland, this “attitude of gratitude” has come naturally. It’s a motto that is reinforced daily through the breadth of learning opportunities and relationships that come with living and studying in the Emerald Isle.
Since the start of the second semester I’ve begun a new job and have done more traveling throughout the island. After probing various firms and NGO’s in Dublin; I decided to take up a part-time job with Matheson, a prominent Irish law firm, to coincide with my Master’s at UCD. Although I certainly don’t aspire to make a career out of practicing corporate law or facilitating mergers, my time so far at Matheson – which possesses a vast portfolio of international clientele – has proven valuable. My role, which involves assisting the lawyers (“solicitors”) in the International Business practice group on ongoing client matters and legal research, is a way for me to play a small part in promoting a new transatlantic “special relationship.” After Brexit, the bond between Ireland and America – already rich culturally – can only deepen through business. The influx of capital and investment to Ireland, where most of the top American multinationals house their European headquarters, has been integral in helping Ireland recover from the eurozone crisis better than the other ‘PIIGS’ debtor nations. Moreover, it bodes well for Ireland’s future and her relationship with the US.
My courses at UCD continue to challenge me in new ways. A module on political violence has helped me knock the rust off my debating skills: our class holds weekly debates on prominent, explanatory theories for conflict and violence in the 21st century like religion, ethnicity, and poverty. Working on a team to construct a reasoned argument regarding certain controversial theories (Huntington’s “clash of civilizations,” for example) has forced me to think more critically and to more clearly connect political theory to contemporary events.
One aspect of my Mitchell year that has been a constant since the day I got here is my respect and admiration for the other scholars. I have learned immensely from the other Mitchells throughout the year and consider our friendships as valuable as any part of my year in Ireland. With a cohort of twelve, we were able to form a very closely-knit group. We all enjoy being around one another – like our incredible mid-year retreat in Belfast and Northern Ireland this February – and we savor the chance to meet up on occasion during the workweek. We love traveling together and engaging in meaningful conversations. I’ve enjoyed exchanging book recommendations with Pete, traveling extensively with Donovan, and chatting frequently with Joel (and talking politics with all three together). Lacey and May have afforded me useful insights about topics in which I am relatively clueless – medicine/science and theatre. As my fellow UCD flatmate, I love talking with Ellie each day whilst in the kitchen about her studies, travels, and academic future. And that’s just a few examples. I am blessed to be in such an eclectic group that will undoubtedly remain close for years and years to come.
This year, I don’t have to look for ways to show thanks. In Ireland, the blessings are abundant and ever-present. I often find myself wishing this year would slow down, but I know the feeling that time has flown by means I’ve truly enjoyed it all. I just hope I’ve been a good steward of this rare and special year.