Bainbridge natives travel to Ireland

Published 2:48 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Six Georgia Southern University honors students had a unique spring break this year when they departed from Statesboro, Ga., for a trip to Northern Ireland where they toured, volunteered and spent St. Patrick’s Day working alongside some of the country’s most notable artists.

The Georgia Southern students arrived in Northern Ireland on March 14 and toured Belfast, the North Antrim coast and Dublin. On St. Patrick’s Day, they volunteered in Derry, where they worked to repair historically significant murals alongside the famed Bogside Artists.

Derry was the scene of a 1972 protest that turned violent when protesters were fired on by the British military. The events of that day led to escalated violence in the region and were the inspiration for the U2 song “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.” The Bogside Artists have painted a series of murals in the area depicting the scenes of that Sunday and other reminders of that unsettled time.

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“Our students seek out meaningful learning experiences,” said Steven Engel, director of Georgia Southern University’s Honors Program. “When some college students plan their break around ‘fun in the sun,’ this group will have the opportunity to learn, first-hand, about the peace and reconciliation process in a society that has emerged from a period of conflict. These kinds of experiential learning opportunities are a hallmark of the honors experience at Georgia Southern University, where students can see ideas in action and make a difference at the same time.”

This trip is also significant because it will be the first time several of the students have traveled abroad.

The Georgia Southern students who traveled on this trip were Ava Conger and Rachel Anderson of Bainbridge, Ashlin Reid of Statesboro, Ga., Mary Elizabeth Cooper of Claxton, Ga., Rachel Rozier of Macon, Ga., and Catherine Ryan of Green Cove Springs, Fla.

Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, offers 116 degree programs serving nearly 18,000 students. Through eight colleges, the university offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. The university, one of Georgia’s largest, is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars and is recognized for its student-centered approach to education.