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October 2008 - Irish Life Experience

From student to counselor

It is somewhat difficult to describe one of the most transformative experiences of my life, but what Taryn Harrison asks, I do willingly. Going to Ireland under the guidance of Taryn and Angie is truly an eye-opening experience. Having participated as a student in 2002 and then coming back as counselor in 2008 were equally rewarding on a myriad of experiential levels. As a student, I had the chance to be away from not only my country, but also my parents. Those few summer weeks as a junior in high school set me in a direction which I still follow today. That trip opened me up to Irish culture and history, but most importantly for my own life, Irish literature and music. I also made many life-long friendships which were formed during those dream-like weeks when I was sixteen in Ireland. I should probably not admit this, but I cried openly and freely at the airport when the group came back to the states (and I am of the opinion that men should cry only when something falls on them).

When I came back to the program as a counselor six years later, I had a whole new view of what goes into Irish Life Experience. As a student, I simply thought the teachers were good enough to wet my appetite for what they discussed. To work and live with these teachers as an adult, however, demonstrated that these people were not simply trying to keep the kids entertained, but rather were prepared and professional to the highest degree. Aside from the didactic facets, I was amazed at the emotional and personal investment in the students and their welfare. I cannot recommend this program highly enough. This is a trip that I found myself, like almost everyone else, incredibly apprehensive about before going on, and then uncommonly sad to be leaving. It offers a chance for responsibility and growth that dwarfs most other opportunities for young adults.

-Peter Ford, Chatham, NJ – Student 2002, Counselor 2006