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UST Students Study Peace Building in Ireland
Twelve University of St. Thomas students with a keen interest in the political, cultural and historical dynamics that have shaped modern Ireland took part in the 2011 William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies study abroad program this summer.

Preceded by two weeks of intensive classes in Houston, this year’s study abroad program focused on all aspects of modern Ireland, both south and north of the border. In Northern Ireland alone, the students met with and interviewed over 50 people involved in building peace.

“Our strong relations with the Irish and Northern Irish Governments and our many Northern Ireland faith-based mentors, such as Rev. Harold Good, former President of the Methodist Church of Ireland, opened many doors for our students to a world they had never witnessed before,” said Lori Gallagher, director of the Center for Irish Studies. “They personally interviewed people from the highest officials in the Northern Irish and Irish Governments to cross-community grass-roots leaders making the journey of peace in the streets every day.”

Rachael Havranek, an MLA student at UST with a concentration in Irish Studies, said the trip was a positive experience.

“It was a whirlwind three and a half weeks of meeting governmental officials, religious leaders of all faiths and other people engaged in the Northern Ireland Peace Process, as well as traveling to places such as the Aran Islands and sites throughout Dublin, Belfast and Galway,” said Havranek. “I came away with experiences that have made me look at my life differently. I learned the value of not giving up on personal relationships, the necessity of dialogue and the benefit of seeking reconciliation.”

The William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies study abroad program imbues the students with an enlightened understanding of the effort and compromises involved in the pursuit of peace. This global outlook will serve the students well as they build their careers and contribute to the society in which they live.

For more information about Irish Studies at UST, contact Lori Gallagher at 713-525-3592 or or visit the website at

Pictured left to right: Washington Massaquoi; Rev. Harold Good; Irish visiting scholar Aoife Ní Ghloinn; Caroline Bailey; Casey Mulryan; Cristina Pizano-Flores; Hon. Peter Robinson, First Minister of Northern Ireland; Jennifer Gilbert; Samantha Treadwell; Rachael Havranek; Natasha Alvarez; Annette Han; Christian Siboldi; Mitchell Wagoner; Jes Hagale; Lori Gallagher, Director of the William J. Flynn Center for Irish Studies at UST.

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The University of St. Thomas, dedicated to educating leaders of faith and character, is a private institution committed to the liberal arts and to the religious, ethical and intellectual tradition of Catholic higher education. St. Thomas is Houston’s only Catholic University and was founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947.


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