Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In Closing - Susan

So, it's our last night in Ireland before heading home tomorrow.  It's been a packed experience filled with contrasts of history, culture, people and different forms of technology.  We've traveled many miles by foot, public buses, trains, ferry, coaches, shuttles and planes.  We've stayed in everything from hotels to bare-bone hostels to a grand manor.  It's been a great trip and a great group, who have taken in much of these packed travels.  One of the Irish coach drivers complimented the gang on being "an honor to their parents, to their university and to their nation" - and they have been!

Over our group meal today at the "Bunratty Creamery" just outside of Shannon, Ireland - I asked for each to speak of something that had made a lasting impression.  All were memorable responses.  Just a few included included the warmth and hospitality particularly of the Welsh; a genuine pride held by the Irish of their culture and their young nation; the amazing and diverse history across the Isles; the imagination and cultural connotations associated with Irish folklore; and incredible beauty of the countryside and natural sites.  We've learned so much from seeing, listening and doing.  Just a few other activities I heard recounted included amazing theatre with the Wicked play; unique British humor in the Robin Hood interactive "Panto"; and Welsh lessons where we learned to sing "My hat has three corners" complete with motions.  We saw ground-breaking technology development and dedication of Bletchley Park; incredible museums; heard of IBM business philosophies from an Irish executive, and saw technology beyond our modern explanations at the 5,500 year-old world heritage site, Newgrange.  And who can forget the "cliffs of insanity" of Princess Bride - more commonly known as the Cliffs of Moher!  We've had meaningful experiences in ancient churches and in a modern church, the beautiful Book of Kells, in devotion discussions and in seeing ancient Celtic Christian crosses that were used to teach Biblical stories in ancient monasteries.  Conwy castle was another great tour.  Staying at Plas Llanmihangel (a renovated 12th century Tudor country manor in Wales) complete with our own banquet in the great room was most memorable.  And so much more...

Finally, I think the group has bonded and made lasting friendships while eating, traveling, learning and experiencing new cultures together.   Back to America tomorrow.  We hear of snow in Spokane - we've been exceptionally fortunate to have unseasonably nice weather throughout the trip.  We didn't even need an umbrella in Britain or Ireland!  Nevertheless, we're all happy to head home tomorrow! 

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