With many years being represented, from 1976-2011, Alumni traveled from as far away as Arizona, California, and Washington. Special guest, Angela Mervyn-Coordinator and Teacher since 1998-even made the journey from Belfast, Northern Ireland. A wonderful surprise to all that spent time and witnessed this remarkable woman in action on the program. “Angie was an integral part in making my summer in Ireland so incredible. It was amazing to see her after all these years,” said Caitlin Hawley (’03-San Francisco, CA). Counselors Cyrus Anderson (’99, ’06, and ‘07-Alexis, IL), Orla Kennedy (’00 and ’06-Boston, MA), Kendall Drew (’03 and ’09-Chicago, IL), Siobhan Kennedy (’05 and ’10-Boston, MA), and Edel Coen (’11-San Francisco, CA) also made treasured appearances.
The Reunion began with an All-Year Social at Anthem Kitchen and Bar in Faneuil Hall. Alumni were reunited over a few pints, a slideshow of candids throughout the years, and a delicious dinner. Heartfelt speeches were made and Alumni reminisced and shared stories of their magical summer spent on the Emerald Isle. It was evident that the program had…, and continues to impact the Alumni in profound ways.
It was early to bed, early to rise, as everyone was anxious to prepare for the 4th Annual Irish Pub Challenge on Saturday-sponsored by Tenon Tours-official travel partner of the program. With an outstanding turnout of almost 4,000 people and 24 pubs participating; Boston’s Irish Pub Challenge came close to breaking the Guinness Book of World Records.
Beginning at 10 AM at the Place, Alumni and Celebrity Captains from the Real World Challenges meandered their way through the streets of Beantown, checking into each pub, and enjoying a Guinness or two. The goal was to visit as many pubs as possible for the chance to win a free trip to Ireland. “I’m very impressed and proud to see how much the Irish Pub Challenge has grown. I was also delighted to have Alumni representing the Irish Life Experience and Irish Way. It is such a phenomenal program and we enjoyed having them participate in the event,” said Bryan Lewis, President of Tenon Tours.
“It was a great weekend,” said Ryan Raines (’07-Rutherford, NJ). “I can’t wait for the next Reunion,” said Maria Leal (’03-Boston, MA). Kendall Drew (’03-Chicago, IL) said, “I cannot thank you enough for organizing such a fantastic weekend. We all had such a great time! It really reminded me of all the great memories, but also the impact that this program has had on my life, both as a student and a Counselor.” “The Reunion was packed full of fun, laughs, and great energy that go hand in hand with the program. And in typical Irish Life Experience/Irish Way style, I finished the weekend having made new friendships, while strengthening existing ones,” said Edel Coen (’11-San Francisco, CA).
It was remarkable to see how many attended the Reunion and to hear how special the program is to each Alumni. Angela Mervyn summed the program up well when she said it changes lives. “It truly does. It changes lives for the better. It changed mine and I will never forget this summer of a lifetime,” said Raizel Burstein-Frame (’11-Seattle, WA).
We are already planning the next Reunion. Possibly in Ireland, so stay tuned.