Formerly abroad students report on Irish conflict

Students, professors and visitors gathered in the Honors Center on Tues., Feb 4, to enjoy scones, tea and cookies and to listen as four honors students explained the various issues of conflict in Northern Ireland.

The John Brown University Honors Scholars Program hosted the event, which allowed students who had studied in Northern Ireland last semester to present what they had learned during their time abroad. Students Kacie Galloway, Elise Murdock, Maggie Willis and Sean Billups each gave a 15 minute presentation expounding on the various aspects of conflict in Northern Ireland.

While some students spoke about the religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics within the nation, others spoke regarding the political conflict between the Irish Republican Army and the Ulster Volunteer Force.

“This is a cycle; the conflict just keeps going,” said Willis in her presentation. “It’s meaningless. It’s happening, and people like to pretend that it’s not.”

Each of these students described the contention within the nation and the need for further peace and integration between the Nationalists, Unionists, Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. They used examples of Irish art, literature and photography to further expound on the need for healing within the nation.

“I thought it was really great for the honors house to put this on and let us give our presentation to people who are interested in coming or have been (to Northern Ireland),” said Galloway. “Instead of forgetting everything we learned, we can just look back and relive some of that. There is so much there that is just a mess in Northern Ireland. It gets me really interested and passionate about the conflict over there, and it’s nice to be able to share that interest with other people.”

Trisha Posey, director of the Honors Scholars Program, was also enthusiastic about providing a venue for the students to be able to share their research with the rest of the campus.

“The students who study abroad don’t typically have an opportunity to share what they studied in Ireland, and this gives them the opportunity to do that,” said Posey. “It’s great for us, and it’s great for them.”