January 2018 – A group of Drew University students and professors traveled to Ireland between semesters, where they attended the Transatlantic Connections Conference and met the country’s former president, Mary McAleese.
McAleese, who led Ireland from 1997 to 2011, addressed the contingent during the ShortTrec trip, which included Drew’s Center on Religion, Culture & Conflict. She spoke about the challenges and rewards of working for peace in Ireland and Northern Ireland, telling stories about the importance of personal interactions with everyone from the Queen of England to a childhood school teacher.
“Hearing her speak about her time as president and what troubles she witnessed throughout the country opened my eyes to what it really means to seek out peace and put an end to violence,” said Joe Bouffard C’19, one of the students on trip.
CRCC Director Jonathan Golden said McAleese’s speech “inspired everyone in the room, young and old, Irish and American.” In recognition of her achievements as a world leader, the CRCC presented her with its Peacebuilder Award.
During the 11-day trip, students and faculty explored both Ireland and Northern Ireland, stopping in Dublin, Donegal and surrounding communities.
Beyond McAleese, Golden was most impressed with the student participation in Transatlantic Connections in Bundoran. “I have never been prouder of Drew students—graduate and undergraduate—presenting their work,” Golden said.