By Anya Watson
This past July, a handful of students from Nepean High School were able to adventure to Ireland for three weeks.
The program they followed, named the Irish Experience — offered by the Toronto Catholic District School Board and open to all Ontario high school students who have completed a grade 10 or 11 English credit — is offering its 24th escape in the summer of 2024.
With the Irish Experience, students studied at universities across Ireland to earn a grade 11 or 12 high school English credit. In the morning, students attended classes on poetry, short stories, novels, and drama.
Grade 11 students read from Irish authors such as Oscar Wilde and Seán O’Casey, while grade 12 students explored writers including James Joyce and William Butler Yeats.
“It was just really interesting to see how the books could be applied to the history of the places that we were visiting,” said Irish Experience alumnus and Nepean student Ellie H.
Afternoons offered a break from schoolwork and the opportunity to explore Irish culture and history. Most notably, students visited the Shandon Bells, the Cliffs of Moher, and watched a Riverdance performance.
“My favourite thing was visiting Blarney Castle,” offered Ellie.
Students also enjoyed a healthy but safe dose of independence by being allowed to navigate cities on their own. The group vacationed in Cork, Galway, and Dublin.
Jackie P., a participant and student in grade 11 at Nepean High School, said her favourite city was “a tie between Dublin and Cork.”
“There were so many cool aspects within [Cork], and I feel like we really got to explore, which is why that one was my favourite,” Ellie added.
Participants resided in university residences with their classmates, utilizing the opportunity of being in close quarters to form lasting friendships.
“It kind of puts you in a setting where you have to be social, but in a good way,” Jackie said. For meals, they ate at on-campus dining halls.
Students interested in this program can arrange a webinar to find out more information. More details can be found at http://www.irish experience.com.
To the lucky few who will have the chance to escape next year, “It was really, really good. I definitely would recommend it. It was the highlight of my summer.”