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SBIO Students and Faculty Members Spend Spring Break Learning in Ireland


   

Culture, Natural Resources and Design in Ireland Culture, Natural Resources and Design in Ireland: 2012 students and faculty members at the “Spanish Arch” (part of the old city wall dating to 1584) during a walking tour of Galway lead by GMIT faculty member Dr. Patrick Tobin (photo by P. Tobin)

March 9, 2012 – “Spend your spring break in a place where it is cold and rainy” was the call answered by 12 Virginia Tech students and two students from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) in March 2012. Virginia Tech faculty members Robert Bush and Tom Hammett lead the trip and were accompanied by CNRE Associate Dean Robert Smith and SVHEC faculty leader Clint Johnson. The nine days in Ireland were part of a course, Culture, Natural Resources and Design in Ireland, which sought to help students learn by experiencing how the three elements are interconnected.
Students in the course learned about Ireland during pre-trip videoconference meetings and were paired with Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology- Letterfrack (GMIT) students to complete a designbuild- market project using wood as the primary material. Pairings and projects increased the level of cross-cultural engagement among the students. GMIT is a VT partner university and offers the premiere wood design and manufacturing program in Ireland.

The trip coincided with National Tree Week in Ireland the students participated in events throughout the week. Highlights included the Irish opening of Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai — a film about the Nobel peace prize recipient and founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya; a lecture and demonstration of fine woodworking; activities for primary school children; and tree planting on the GMIT-Letterfrack campus. Virginia Tech students presented the GMIT students with a plaque they made in commemoration of the visit and the ongoing partnership. Also presented, as a letter from CNRE Dean Paul Winistorfer and a plaque from the Virginia Department of Forestry which recognized National Tree Week and the three-way collaboration of GMIT, SVHEC and Virginia Tech.

   

Local countryside guide Inez Streefkerk discusses ancient “bog oak” with VT students Local countryside guide Inez Streefkerk discusses ancient “bog oak” with VT students (left to right) Lori Koch, De’Ashley Spain and Rosemary Masser during a mountain and bog hike in the Connemara National Park. (photo by R. Bush)

 

In addition to the design-build-market projects and Tree Week activities, the group visited the museums, hiked in Connemara National Park, visited the Cliffs of Moher and the Sky Road, explored the town of Ennis, enjoyed a walking historical tour of Galway City, and visited the Kylemore Abby estate.


 

   

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