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This past summer I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to carry on an important family tradition. For generations my relatives have been traveling back to Ireland because it was my Great Grandmother McNamara’s wish that her descendants travel back to Ireland in hopes they would fall in love with her homeland. I was the most recent descendant to fall in love with Ireland.

Before my journey began I was filled with excitement, but I was also quite nervous. I had never been out of the country before; I had barely even been out of Kansas. Numerous concerns ran through my mind. I would be on my own, away from my family, with people I had never met before. What would I need? How will this all work out? What will the people be like? Taryn was there every step of the way though, easing the stress of all the planning. The day my journey began was filled with numerous flight delays and ended with me running from terminal to terminal, fighting to get to Ireland. But I made it. And I was glad. As soon as I met everyone all my worries vanished. I was accepted with such kindness. They were all waiting for me and were as excited as I was. Little did I know this would soon be my new family.

Ireland is truly a breathtaking splendor. Pictures do not do the place justice; it is something you must experience for yourself. Everywhere I walked I was surrounded by beauty: beautiful mountains, hills, rivers, trees-simply everything. From the Giant’s Causeway up North to the Cliff’s of Moher in County Clare, I was blessed to witness such magnificence. Ireland has its own sound, smell, and feel. It is not something I can even begin to put into words. I have never seen a more beautiful place, nor felt a more marvelous passion than Ireland.

I immediately became consumed by my curiosity. The culture and the history of Ireland captivated me. I wanted to learn all about Ireland and what made its heart beat. I wanted to be a part of this simple lifestyle that seemed to make everyone so happy. My wonderful ILE teachers and counselors helped me fulfill this curiosity: introducing me to the culture, sharing the history, and teaching me traditional Irish songs. I learned all I could about Ireland and found a new love for my heritage.

The friends I made on the trip are ones that I will have for the rest of my life. Though we are scatted all over the States we have an enduring bond that will sustain through distance. We’ve been through so much and we are there for each other every step of our journey together. Being in a new world, tied us tightly together. The relationships build on this expedition made the difference.

My first experience abroad was one that I will never forget and I wouldn’t trade it for any other. This was the greatest way to step into a new world. ILE made me feel safe and gave me an experience like no other. Every moment was precious and unique. Every moment was filled with happiness. I fell in love with everyone on the trip and I fell in love with Ireland. Though I was a long way from Kansas, I felt at home. Ireland has become my new home and will always be in my heart. Éirinn go Brách.

-Sydney A.-Overland Park, KS-Student 2010

-Sydney A., Overland Park, KS-Student 2010

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Ireland High School & College Trips To Ireland

Reviewed 09/30/11