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Published: Friday, 5/31/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Lourdes students head to Ireland for study abroad

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Departing on the Lourdes shuttle is the study abroad group. Departing on the Lourdes shuttle is the study abroad group.
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Going to Ireland was on Brittany Urban's bucket list since she was a child.

On Friday, the upcoming sophomore set off on a trip to the country of her ancestors, one of 15 Lourdes University students in its first official study abroad program.

Before leaving for the airport in the morning, they met with media representatives on campus, near the Franciscan Center, in Sylvania.

Ms. Urban, 19, of Millbury, Ohio, looked forward to going to Dublin and "seeing everything there, the culture, and history -- everything," she said.

"I am excited but nervous because I've never been overseas before,"  the social work major said. "I always wanted to go to Ireland -- since I was little -- because I am part Irish."

Lourdes University students Brittany Urban and Susie Brown are heading to Ireland as part of the school's study abroad program. Lourdes University students Brittany Urban and Susie Brown are heading to Ireland as part of the school's study abroad program.
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Ms. Urban took a minute to talk after she and other students, clad in orange Lourdes University Gray Wolves T-shirts, checked their passports and luggage and called out to each other so that nothing - or no one - was left behind. 

Mary Cooney-Robinson, an associate professor of history and interim chairperson of the history department at Lourdes, said the main purpose of the three-week trip is immersion in Irish culture. Ireland was picked because there is a lot of interest at Lourdes in Irish culture and history, she said.

Ms. Urban and the rest of the participating students will get six hours of college credits in two subjects -- the History of Ireland and Multicultural Perspectives. The participants had gone through two weeks of classes learning about Irish history and culture in preparation, Ms. Cooney-Robinson said. 

Highlights of the trip include two days in Dublin, a visit to the Island of Inishturk (where fewer than 50 people, mostly farmers, stay year-round), a medieval banquet at Dunguaire Castle, and a several-day stay at Tully Cross, a rural island community of farmers and small business owners, Terry Keller, assistant professor of social work at Lourdes, said.

Lourdes University group involved with the study abroad program, front row left to right, Interim President (black suit with bluish purple tank) Janet Robinson, students Brittany Urban, Kirsten Daubigny, Lindsay Powell, Shawne Costilla, and Alison Roberts.  Back row from left to right: Michael Robinson (Lourdes alumna); History Chair and Professor Mary Robinson; interim Provost Keith Schlender, Tiffany Scott, Eleanore Sharkey, Rachel Shields, Patrick Grilliot, Virginia Sandford, Jacalyn Tomlinson, Krystal Starling, Brooke Darah, Pamela Spencer, Susie Brown, and Social Work Professor Terry Keller, creator of the Ireland Program.  Lourdes University group involved with the study abroad program, front row left to right, Interim President (black suit with bluish purple tank) Janet Robinson, students Brittany Urban, Kirsten Daubigny, Lindsay Powell, Shawne Costilla, and Alison Roberts. Back row from left to right: Michael Robinson (Lourdes alumna); History Chair and Professor Mary Robinson; interim Provost Keith Schlender, Tiffany Scott, Eleanore Sharkey, Rachel Shields, Patrick Grilliot, Virginia Sandford, Jacalyn Tomlinson, Krystal Starling, Brooke Darah, Pamela Spencer, Susie Brown, and Social Work Professor Terry Keller, creator of the Ireland Program.
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People at Tully Cross were so hospitable when Mr. Keller was there on a study abroad program in 2000 as an undergraduate student at Aquinas College in Grands Rapids, Mich., that he eventually came up with an idea to bring to his students the " complete cultural immersion" he had experienced there, he said.

"People at Tully Cross were very open and they accept you as a member of their community," he said. "It's a very rural environment. Tully Cross is an old community with rich history. There are hundreds of years of family history there."

Both professors accompanied the students on the trip. They talked to them in the parking lot, allaying their anxiety about the trip.

"I have so many mixed emotions," said Susie Brown, 40, of Sylvania, who is in her senior year at Lourdes. "I am happy and excited but I am also nervous about the unknown." Not counting Caribbean cruises, it was her first trip abroad, she said.

Ms. Brown, a social work major who used to drive a yellow bus in Cincinnati before college, said she hoped the trip would help her become a better social worker.

"The more cultures you have been exposed to, the better you are dealing with situations that potential clients might be in," she said. "And they can be of different backgrounds and religions."

A $3,900 fee each student paid for the trip includes travel, a meal a day, and housing, Mr. Keller said.

Contact Mike Sigov at: 419-724-6089, sigov@theblade.com, or on Twitter @mikesigovblade.



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