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Haseleys travel the world as global educators, establish OHIO scholarship

As seen in Compass:

Haseleys travel the world as global educators, establish OHIO scholarship
May 11, 2016
By McKenzie Powell

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]uther and Jeanne Haseley have experienced first-hand the life-changing opportunities that can flourish from higher education—and they have embraced those opportunities as a team, traveling to Botswana, Nigeria and Japan with their family. Holding their global experiences near and dear to their hearts, the couple created the Luther and Jeanne Haseley Scholarship to assist future Bobcats like themselves.

“I feel a tremendous loyalty to Ohio University to be very truthful; it’s treated me very, very well. I think this is a very small way of giving something back,” said Luther, M.A. ’57, who is an emeriti professor for the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

The Haseleys first came to OHIO after meeting one another at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Following their undergraduate graduations, life changed pace with the addition of marriage, children and a new life in Athens.

Luther began working towards his master’s degree at OHIO and the two enjoyed their time as a young married couple in Appalachia – even though they spent part of it living in an all-boys dormitory.

“We got married the second year here. I was a resident assistant the first year and the second year I was the head resident. So, our first year of married life was in a boy’s dormitory, which was really kind of interesting,” Luther said.

After Luther’s graduate commencement, the couple lived and worked throughout Ohio and West Virginia, and Luther received his doctoral degree in education while teaching and working for University of Toledo’s counseling center.

Before long, they found themselves back at OHIO. Luther accepted a position working as a faculty member and the Haseleys’ lives were changed forever. Suddenly, the family was on a plane, waving goodbye to the United States.

“I was hired at OHIO and they liked me so much that they sent me to Nigeria for the first two years. So I was in Nigeria from 1965 to 1967 with my wife and three children,” Luther said. “It was our first time on a plane.”

“For all of us,” Jeanne, M. Ed. ’70, continued. “We were so inexperienced at air travel that we were having lunch with our parents at the Columbus airport and we thought we’d be able to see the plane when it came in…but the plane had come in on the other side. All the sudden we heard an announcement, ‘Last call for the Haseley family.’”

“We grabbed our suitcases and ran to the gate,” Luther finished with a laugh.

During the next two years in Nigeria, Luther worked on an OHIO project that developed teacher-training colleges in both the north and south of the country. Luther was the administrator of the project in the north and coordinated in-service activities for teachers in the field. The project developed through collaboration between Ohio University and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

“The training centers were really kind of sophisticated. We had a language laboratory and a closed-circuit television where we could evaluate teacher techniques,” Luther said. “I mean this was really new; this was absolutely something that they never had before.”

During these two years, Jeanne homeschooled their three children and joined an organization called the YWCA. This group conducted classes in English for the wives of the Emir of Kano, the city in Northern Nigeria where they were living.

“It was the only chance for the women to have some contact with the outside world. They enjoyed their time with us and we enjoyed our time with them because we learned a lot about the customs of Nigeria and what life was like inside the palace,” Jeanne said.

Before they knew it, the Haseleys had caught the travel bug. Three years after leaving Nigeria, the family traveled to Japan and stayed for one year.

In Japan, Luther coordinated a collaborative project between the U.S. Department of Education, the Pentagon and OHIO. Through this venture, Department of Defense elementary school teachers took classes in their respective countries, including Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and the Philippines, with OHIO professors from the Department of Counseling and Higher Education in the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

After a 15-month program, including two summer sessions, the students received a Master of Education degree from OHIO. A few years after returning from Japan, they traveled to Germany and Spain where Luther taught doctoral courses in psychology to U.S. Air Force personnel through Ball State University.

From 1983 to 1992, the family lived in Botswana. Luther was the In-Service Director for the Ministry of Education and was tasked with developing in-service education courses for teachers in remote areas of the country. This helped to enable and prepare teachers for passing the exams for teacher certification.

The OHIO team also created a two-year primary education certificate program at the University of Botswana for prospective education students. This program was one of the few University Primary Education programs in Africa at the time.

“It was a project where Botswana sent people to Ohio University to get their advanced degrees and then, when they returned to Botswana, they took the place of the Ohio University staff members who were working there,” Jeanne said.

“It was a very, very positive experience,” Luther added.

In Botswana, Jeanne helped develop a special education program for children and taught special education courses to teacher trainees at a teacher training college.

“They were a little bit ahead of the U.S. Instead of having special classes for all the kids with special needs, they wanted to integrate them into regular classrooms. So, the challenge was how to teach the special needs children while you were also teaching the other children,” Jeanne said.

Jeanne continued training teachers in special education, while the OHIO team expanded the University of Botswana by developing a four-year bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in primary education. Since then, the University of Botswana has even created a doctoral program.

When the family returned to the U.S., Luther took an early retirement, but he wasn’t finished teaching just yet. Instead, he got involved with a new initiative executed by OHIO to develop a PhD program for the University of Mexico in Mérida, Mexico.

“It was unique [because] emeriti faculty were the ones that went over and did the teaching and I was like the coordinator of that program. The students then had to come to Ohio University to do their dissertation,” Luther said. “It was really exciting because all of the students got their PhDs and then went back to the University of Mexico to teach.”

Since their time abroad, Luther and Jeanne have continued to travel as frequently as possible while also contributing a great deal of energy and dedication to the University. The couple continues to find ways to give back to OHIO programs and future Bobcats through gifts like the Luther and Jeanne Haseley Scholarship.

“I really enjoyed my time at the University. When I was teaching there I enjoyed the people I was working with and I had great relationships with the students. I think it’s a community that I feel very much at home in and this is a small way of giving back,” Luther said.

The Luther and Jeanne Haseley Scholarship will provide awards to full-time undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need who are enrolled in or have been accepted for admission at OHIO. Because of the couple’s strong ties to education, the student must also be accepted for admission to the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

“Ohio University provided me with a lot of opportunities for increasing my effectiveness as a teacher and my intellectual stimulation by being with others who were doing the same thing,” Jeanne said. “In many cases, kids from low-income families maybe don’t have the impetus from their parents or from their home to get an education like we did and we hope this will help.”

Through the OHIO Match program, the University will also match the Haseley’s gift by contributing 50 cents to every dollar donated. The OHIO Match program has dedicated $25 million towards OHIO’s endowed scholarship program as a part of the Promise Lives Campaign, which exceeded its primary goal and raised over $500 million in gifts and commitments in 2015.


Developing Educators in Japan

The Haseleys spent a great deal of their time traveling the world, gaining new experiences and spreading their love and dedication toward education and teaching.

One of the family’s many homes was Japan, where Luther coordinated a collaborative project between the U.S. Department of Education, the Pentagon and OHIO. Through this venture, Department of Defense elementary school teachers took classes in their respective countries, including Japan, Okinawa, South Korea and the Philippines, with OHIO professors from the Department of Counseling and Higher Education in the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

After a 15-month program, including two summer sessions, the elementary school teachers received a Master of Education degree from OHIO. Luther devoted much of his life toward developing programs like these, which created several ties between Bobcat professors and international OHIO graduate students and educators.

To read the original article click here

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Women and Law in Ancient India

As seen in OHIO Today’s OHIO Women

Women and Law in Ancient India

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tephanie Jamison presented “Adulterous Woman to Be Eaten by Dogs: Women and Law in Ancient India” at OHIO’s biannual Gawande Lecture Series in November. A professor in the department of Asian languages and cultures at University of California, Los Angeles, Jamison focuses on Indo-Iranian languages and texts, plus societal and aesthetic issues within them. She co-edited and co-translated the first complete English translation in more than a century of all 1,028 hymns of the Rigveda, India’s oldest religious text. A gift from OHIO friends Dr. Sushila and the late Dr. Ram Gawande supports the series, which brings renowned scholars of Indian philosophy and religion to the University. – McKenzie Powell, BSJ ’16, BA ‘16

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5 interesting cities to visit in Ireland

As seen in USA TODAY College:

5 interesting cities to visit in Ireland
By McKenzie Powell, Ohio University August 10, 2015 10:11 am

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]ogether, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland create a tiny island bursting with picturesque sceneries, undeniably kind citizens and a thrilling nightlife.

While it is impossible to narrow down all of the destinations worth visiting in Ireland, there are a few you should keep in mind. If you’re planning a holiday here (as the Irish would say), you won’t want to miss out on a visit to each of the following five cities.

1. Dublin 

Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, has a very interesting history and currently stands as a progressive, bustling metropolis with endless options for arts, entertainment, shopping and the like.

View of Dublin, Ireland from the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

View of Dublin, Ireland from the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

Tourists can visit the National Museum of Ireland to discover more about the Vikings’ settlement in Dublin or take a tour of Trinity College and see Ireland’s largest library, the Trinity College Library.

Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland

Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland

Dublin also has never-ending options for pubs and restaurants, with some street performers and markets sprinkled throughout. Tour buses are available throughout the city, as well as a cheap and useful train system that can take you to attractions like the Guinness Storehouse, Old Jameson Distillery and the famous St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin, Ireland

2. Belfast 

Belfast is located in Northern Ireland and is currently serving as Northern Ireland’s capital city. Like many other cities in Northern Ireland, Belfast was a part of The Troubles, a thirty-year conflict between the unionist/Protestants and the nationalist/Catholics over Northern Ireland’s identity and belonging.

“There are two main communities with different versions of the troubles,” says Gerry Lynn, a customer services assistant who gives informational tours about The Troubles in Derry for the Tower Museum. “It has a character of its own and is well worth a visit.”

Botanic Gardens

Belfast Botanic Gardens

Because of Belfast’s intense past, much of the city’s history still lingers through murals and various landmarks. Like Dublin, many buses are available for tours around the city, as well as the Belfast Famous Black Cab Tour, which specifically focuses on The Troubles in Belfast.


Titanic Belfast

Belfast is well known for Titanic Belfast, a museum-like experience that explains the Titanic’s story, beginning with the boat’s construction in Belfast, and is also home to television series Game of Thrones. Visitors might also enjoy walking through the Botanic Gardens, spending an afternoon in the Ulster Museum and photographing the Belfast Cathedral.


Queen’s University in Belfast

3. Galway

Located on the western coast of Ireland, Galway is an adorable city with diverse cultural influences and a flourishing shopping, restaurant and bar scene. The city, which was originally a tiny fishing village, is also home to several beaches along Galway Bay.


Artist in Galway

Galway hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Galway Film Fleadh and the Galway Arts Festival which both occur during the summer months. Visitors can also walk to see St. Nicholas’ Church, the exciting Galway Market complete with fresh produce and artisan crafts, and the historical Spanish Arch that previously served as a bastion for the city.

Galway is also very close to other gorgeous sites like the Cliffs of Moher, Connemara and the Aran Islands. Day tours are readily available from Galway to all three locations.


Galway, Ireland

4. Derry

Derry, or Londonderry, is another city in Northern Ireland that underwent The Troubles and experienced a difficult history of division between Protestants and Catholics.

“From the sixth to the 16th century, it was the cradle of Christianity. It was the last walled city in Europe to be built; we have had the longest siege in British history,” Lynn says.


The Peace Bridge in Derry

Tourists can visit a bundle of attractions that tell of Derry’s trying past, including The Tower Museum, which has a permanent exhibit detailing the entire history of Derry, the Peace Bridge, a bridge that connects the two previously divided parts of the city and, of course, this historic City Walls.


Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry has many other sights to see, as well, including the murals near the bogside, St. Columb’s Cathedral, and the beautiful Guildhall building, which contains spectacular stained glass.


Derry, Northern Ireland

5. Tory Island 

If you need a quick, peaceful getaway, Tory Island will more than likely have just what you need. Although the island is extremely tiny, it holds at least a days worth of activities and sightseeing to keep you busy, including guides discussing Tory’s myths and legends, a scenic walk to the island’s lighthouse and a downright stunning visit to the island’s cliffs.


Cliffs of Tory Island

When you aren’t exploring Tory, there are many areas throughout the island to just relax and enjoy the view – whether you’d prefer grass, the beach or the cliffs – and you just might even catch sight of a seal or some puffins. The King of Tory is quite often present, as well, and is known for greeting visitors right off the boat.


Tory Island, Ireland

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5 tips for surviving a difficult homestay transition

As seen in USA TODAY College:

5 tips for surviving a difficult homestay transition
By McKenzie Powell, Ohio University August 19, 2015 3:42 pm

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter having spent a year or two in college and away from the constant surveillance of your overprotective parents, it may seem daunting to know that your upcoming study abroad program is placing you in a homestay — a housing option presented to may study abroad students that allows them to live in the home of a local family.

Although it may seem like all of your independence is about to be taken away from you in one fell swoop, try to enter the living situation with an open mind before passing judgments or making assumptions. remember the positives of living with a host family: cultural and linguistic immersion.

“I think it is one on the best ways to complete an immersion program. If the student is well integrated into the family, a homestay could be excellent to improve language abilities — especially day-to-day language that we do not necessarily find in books,” says Gamo Mbow Tounkara, resident coordinator for the Council on International Educational Exchange’s study abroad programs in Dakar, Senegal.

If you have been living abroad with a host family for a little while now and just can’t seem to get things right, here are five tips for surviving a difficult homestay transition:


First, try and assess the situation. Does the entire family seem distant, or just certain individuals like the parents? Are you often staying in your room or leaving the house to avoid the living situation or are you actively trying to spend time with your host family?

In the beginning, your family may try and give you some space to get adjusted to your new life abroad. If, once you have adjusted, it seems that particular people still just don’t seem very interested in you, or you are still being secluded in specific situations, contemplate certain cultural influences and differences as these could be major factors. More often than not, what may seem negative to us — like being sent to a different room to eat on your own — was actually intended to be a positive, kind gesture.

Go into each new day with a positive, open mind and keep trying to integrate into the family, even if it still seems like you just can’t fit in. Don’t avoid your family out of fear or misunderstanding. Instead, start mingling with the children and work your way up. Ask questions, participate in family activities, offer to help clean and continue to show your genuine interest and desire to become a part of the family.


One of the most frightening aspects of living with another family in a foreign country is the fact that they are probably speaking a different language than you, perhaps one that you have only been able to practice in the comfort of your own home university with other beginners.

“If language is the only barrier, I think that it’s not a problem at all. I would just advise them to relax, not worry about making mistakes and be accepting to learn the language from the family,” Tounkara says.

While it may be terrifying at first, this is also one of the greatest benefits of living with a host family, as it allows you to dive head first into cultural and linguistic immersion. If you are having a difficult time keeping up with conversation during dinner or answering questions while hanging out with your family, start carrying a dictionary with you to look up any forgotten or unfamiliar words. This is nothing to be ashamed of and can work wonders in getting to know your family on more than just a “how was your day” basis.

Also, don’t be afraid to ask any children in the family for their help in teaching you key phrases, slang words or just general words you have never learned. They will more than likely love teaching the older, new kid in their family how to say things and it will also allow for some great bonding time with your little siblings. If you are really struggling, take these new words and phrases that you have learned and write them down a few times every night before bed to really start retaining and memorizing your vocab.


To read the full article click here

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5 ways to cope with reverse culture shock

As seen in USA TODAY College:

5 ways to cope with reverse culture shock
By McKenzie Powell, Ohio University July 29, 2015 5:05 pm

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or many study abroad students and travelers, reverse culture shock — or the effects and process of re-entering one’s home country after being abroad — can be just as challenging as culture shock itself.

“Reverse culture shock is that feeling you get when you return home and have to re-adjust to everything being different again, just like you did when you went abroad,” said Keely Davin, senior program coordinator for Ohio University’s Office of Global Opportunities.

Returning to the United States after a period of time spent immersed in another country’s culture, language and way of life may result in feelings of confusion, frustration and misunderstanding.

According to, reverse culture shock usually takes place in four different stages: disengagement, initial euphoria, irritability and hostility and, finally, readjustment and adaptation.

These four stages are essentially a rollercoaster of emotions. It begins with sadness, continues with elatedness, transforms into feelings of alienation and disorientation and ends with a slow but steady readjustment to life at home.

“Most students experience a great deal of personal growth while abroad and might feel frustrated when returning home to friends and family because it can feel as if people don’t understand or recognize that change,” Davin said.

So what do you do during this process? How do you get out of the muck and get to stage four sanely? Have no fear; it’s possible.


This can include locals, as well as other study abroad students from your program. Keeping in touch with other students who underwent some of the same experiences as you not only maintains those bonds and friendships alive, but can also provide comfort and understanding during your transition back into the States.

Continuing communication with locals allows you to remain up-to-date on the latest international happenings, not to mention sustain relations with people who had a significant influence on your life during your travels abroad. Maintaining relationships with these international friends and acquaintances can also create opportunities to practice your foreign language of choice while upholding possible global contacts for the future.


Keeping a blog or journal is a great way to share your thoughts and feelings about your journey while also keeping a hard copy of your once-in-a-lifetime experience. Both of these options are also great ways to overcome reverse culture shock (along with culture shock), as they can be used as outlets to positively articulate and express your sentiments about your time abroad or your recent return home.

If you aren’t too fond of writing, other forms of artistic expression may also help you to combat any negative emotions and hardships during re-entry. This could include anything from painting to composing music to going through the awesome pictures you took during your program.


Let’s face it, when we’re traveling everything is new, exciting, unexpected and fun. Once we go back home and start getting back into the same old routines, life can seem so boring – so dull and monotonous.

So, don’t fall back into your old habits and routines. Find new ways to add pizazz to your life at home, whether that’s exploring a different city in your home state, visiting a state you’ve never been to, or simply finding a new outdoorsy location within your own hometown. The options really are endless – and, of course, start planning your next international voyage!

To read the full article click here.

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Jamaica revitalizes anti-doping system just in time for 2016 Olympics

As seen in the Global Spotlight and the Institute for International Journalism blog:

Jamaica revitalizes anti-doping system just in time for 2016 Olympics
By McKenzie Powell

[dropcap]J[/dropcap]ust two short years after Jamaica was placed under strict scrutiny for failing to meet international anti-doping standards, the country has demonstrated an improvement in both anti-doping testing procedures and education, right in time for the 2016 Olympic Games.

In 2013, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) inspected Jamaica’s anti-doping processes, revealing a lack of proper testing and several athletes testing positive. This incident led to the resignation of the entire Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission (JADCO) board, and reports declaring Jamaica’s potential ineligibility for the 2016 Olympics.

Fortunately, for Jamaica, it seems JADCO and the country as a whole have increased their efforts toward creating a more thorough and qualified anti-doping program, comprised of improvements with both testing and education.

“Since January 2014, the agency has gone through several changes to ensure that its processes are aligned to the International Standards set out by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and that it has qualified and competent personnel to carry out its duties,” wrote Carey Brown, executive director of JADCO.

JADCO was established in correlation with Jamaica’s Anti-Doping in Sports Act of 2008 in an effort to create a dope-free sports environment. The commission is funded by the Jamaican Government and is expected to meet the standards established by WADA.

“As it’s the chemical component and not specific brands that are listed, sometimes athletes consume items that contain banned substances without being aware,” said Neish Gaye McLean.

Leighton Levy, who is a sports journalist for Nationwide News Network, believes that a major cause of the Jamaican testing scandal in 2013 was a lack of funding and the world’s increased awareness of Jamaica’s talent in sports – particularly in track and field.

“Now that we are winning more on a consistent basis, we are under the spotlight,” Levy said. “There were issues back in 2013 [when] the Jamaican Anti-Doping Commission did not have the proper testing kits. They now have the funding to do a lot more than they were previously.”

According to JADCO, in addition to more thorough testing procedures, the commission also introduced blood testing in June of 2015 in collaboration with a local plhebotomy company called Central Medical Laboratories. This form of testing is becoming more and more necessary, as it often detects more substances than urine testing alone.

The 2015 edition of the WADA Prohibited Substances and Methods List includes pages of banned exogenous and endogenous substances organized into categories like anabolic agents, peptide hormones, growth factors and mimetics, diuretics and masking agents, and more.

The Prohibited Substances and Methods List is very detailed and complex, meaning athletes may be more susceptible to inadvertantly taking supplements that contain one or more of these banned substances.

“As it’s the chemical component and not specific brands that are listed, sometimes athletes consume items that contain banned substances without being aware,” said Neish Gaye McLean, who received a post-graduate diploma in sports management from the University of the West Indies (UWI) in St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago.

“Most of the persons that I have been in contact with are persons that don’t know they have taken something,” Irving said. “I may be naïve, but I do not feel that most of our athletes would willingly take drugs – they will willingly take supplements.”

As stated by Levy, the consumption of these items is often due to the athletes’ naiveté and misplaced trust.

“What a lot of athletes would be guilty of is certainly carelessness,” Levy said.

This carelessness is one of the reasons that JADCO has focused on spreading and promoting anti-doping education by hosting workshops for athletes, sporting federations and associations, and professional groups.

In addition to JADCO’s individual efforts, UWI in Mona, Jamaica, has held several anti-doping workshops to raise awareness of the potential risks of taking supplements, while also examining strengths and weaknesses of Jamaica’s anti-doping program.

“Many of the elite athletes are taking supplements. Supplements are not illegal, taking them is just risky,” said Rachael Irving, who is an assistant professor, senior research fellow and chair of the Anti-Doping Workshop Committee at UWI-Mona.

Irving said that because there have been cases of athletes believing a supplement was clean when, under the WADA rules and regulations, it was not, it is important for athletes to take supplements only if they “absolutely have to.”

“You just have to be careful that you buy from a reputable company,” she said.

UWI-Mona was also chosen by WADA to hold a pilot university course, the first anti-doping course at the university level to be offered in all of the Caribbean. The course, which will be available again in January 2016, incorporates speakers from diverse disciplines, including toxicology, law and sports management.

“Our athletes are of a great integrity,” Levy said. “We’ve been doing great things for a really long time. It’s not like we just now need doping to produce some of the world’s greatest athletes.”

While there are several cases of athletes taking banned substances unknowingly, there are also instances where athletes will intentionally take something on the banned substance list.

“There’s ambition for fame and money and not everybody’s willing to put in the effort required,” said Andre Lowe, sports editor for the Gleaner Company.

Irving, Levy and Lowe all agree, however, that Jamaica does not house many athletes who deliberately dope.

“Most of the persons that I have been in contact with are persons that don’t know they have taken something,” Irving said. “I may be naïve, but I do not feel that most of our athletes would willingly take drugs – they will willingly take supplements.”

“Our athletes are of a great integrity,” Levy said. “We’ve been doing great things for a really long time. It’s not like we just now need doping to produce some of the world’s greatest athletes.”

Jamaica is not the first country to have been thrown into the public eye over doping allegations and poor testing regulations. The United States alone has undergone numerous doping scandals involving prominent athletes like track runner Marion Jones and cyclist Lance Armstrong.

As reported by the Guardian, Russia is the most recent country to disobey WADA’s rules, and has been indefinitely suspended from all competitions due to state-sponsored doping.

In June 2015, WADA released the Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) report, which includes statistics of all violations from 2013. The ADRV report states that Russia, Turkey and France were among the top ten violators in the world, with the United States ranking at number 11. When comparing Russia’s total ADRV count of 225 and the United States’ count of 43, Jamaica fell at the bottom with just nine total anti-doping rule violations in 2013.

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It’s not a ‘goodbye,’ it’s a ‘see you later’

As written for the Irish Bobcats blog:

It’s not a ‘goodbye,’ it’s a ‘see you later’
By McKenzie Powell

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] have officially been back in the United States for a week now (when I wrote this that is), and it’s very difficult to put into words the different emotions that I am feeling.

Although the trip is still fairly fresh in my mind, thinking back to the beginning of our six-week study abroad program in Ireland really brings back a lot of crazy feelings – like nervousness, excitement, unpreparedness, etc.

I arrived at the Dublin Airport after spending four weeks in Senegal, with zero time to recuperate and think of my experience and time in West Africa. I was extremely nervous for what lied ahead of me, particularly regarding our screenwriting class.

View of Dublin, Ireland from the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

View of Dublin, Ireland from the Guinness Storehouse Gravity Bar

It’s kind of humorous now when I reflect on how scared I was to adapt a short story into my own script. I had never changed someone else’s writing before, let alone changed it AND put it into a script. I am also not a film or media student, so I was automatically feeling anxious and unsure.

I had to consider the imaginary actors, the imaginary director, the imaginary set, how much to change, how little to change, what dialogue to use and when dialogue was just plain unnecessary. I had to imagine these characters as real people and not just actors or characters, thinking carefully about what this imaginary person would actually say in real life and the actions he/she would do – naturally.

Overall, it ended up being so much easier and enjoyable than I could have ever imagined, and it really opened me back up to writing creatively instead of structurally. I was free to do as I wished with the story – whether that meant adding five new scenes that I had completely made up myself, or keeping a scene and dialogue exactly as the author had written in her short story.

Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland

Our other main project – well, really our biggest project of all – was our documentary project. I paired up with the wonderful Lauren to research, interview, transcribe, and (somewhat) shoot video for our documentary script on traditional Irish fiddling within County Donegal.

Our project went really smooth throughout, and I was quite pleased with our finished product. Our biggest difficulties were finding good locations to film (ones WITHOUT white backgrounds) and people who were okay with cameras in their faces. Luckily, filming wasn’t included in the final project compilation, and we had a few successful, detailed interviews that really helped to guide our script and give it some shape.

Because our classes and projects did seem to take up a lot of our time in Ireland, it was hard to realize just how much we were also doing, seeing and experiencing through our excursions. We were lucky enough to visit Dublin, Ireland’s capital city, as well as Belfast, Northern Ireland’s capital city. Our group also attended the Galway Film Fleadh in Galway, a city that was unarguably one of the favorites amongst our crew, Tory Island, a relaxing little island that was even better than Galway, and Derry, which is another city in Northern Ireland that underwent The Troubles, like Belfast.

Tory Island, Ireland

Tory Island, Ireland

I definitely had an exciting time in Ireland and learned so many new things in regards to scriptwriting and documentary filmmaking, as well as Ireland’s past and present trials and tribulations. I would recommend this trip to any student interested in developing or furthering their skills within media with a focus on film and writing – and exploring the beautiful Ireland, of course!