Entering Derry: The Value of Study Abroad

Ben Smith, Cactus Writer

“You are now entering Free Derry.” Those are the first words you read when entering the town of Derry in Northern Ireland. Murals of teenagers fighting British soldiers and tributes to fallen Irish citizens, many of them mere schoolchildren, are everywhere. Seventeen years after the Good Friday Agreement was signed, and the true peace process in Northern Ireland began, towns like Derry have neither forgiven nor forgotten their centuries of conflict with England, even if the rest of the world has. As gentle and peaceful as the Irish countryside may seem, its towns and battlefields hold a more tragic, and intimate, truth about the nature of history, one I never would have understood from simple textbooks or lectures.

During Spring Break of 2017, I participated in CAC’s Study Abroad Ireland trip, a new program aimed at giving students the chance to study Irish literature and culture in Ireland. Like most study abroad trips, this experience did not come cheaply or easily. Also like most study abroad trips, it was absolutely worth every penny. We visited medieval castles, ancient Celtic

grounds and pivotal sites in the Irish-British conflicts. I feel confident in saying, without a doubt, study abroad trips are the most valuable educational experience offered here at CAC.

I say this to ask all students at CAC, regardless of major or academic aspirations, to consider the Study Abroad offerings the college has. Whether that means visiting County Donegal in Ireland, applying to attend Northeastern University in Shenyang, China, studying Spanish in Mexico, or attending the Humanities Tour in France, it is imperative for a college to offer and for us to take these kinds of opportunities.

One of these opportunities at CAC is the Humanities Tour of France. Professor Hanson, Humanities professor at Superstition Mountain Campus, is taking students who sign up on a week-long tour of France, culminating in a trip to the Louvre, the world’s largest art museum and an historic monument in Paris.

I would encourage every student to seriously consider this most exciting of educational opportunities. To travel is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For more information about Tour of France, contact Professor Hanson at alyson.hanson@centralaz.edu. For other study abroad opportunities, visit International Studies page on CAC website.