Playing piano at the Irish White House. Personal face time with the Irish president. A day with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Senior Ryan Brown has experienced it all through the Walsh Jesuit Irish studies program, an intensive four-week, study-abroad experience sponsored by the high school in collaboration with St. Ignatius. Meeting the president left an impression on Ryan. "She was genuinely interested in what we were doing, and she ... answered all our questions," he says. Walsh teacher Daniel Bizga leads a group of 10 to 18 students each summer after two weeks of pre-departure courses he teaches alongside two Walsh teachers and a St. Ignatius theology teacher. Once there, students live and study at Queen's University in Belfast, do service projects, meet Parliament members and learn about the conflict in Ireland. The level of access students have to people in the peace process and in government is remarkable for a high school program, Bizga says. "Almost everyone that's involved has significant contacts. When you put all of our contacts together, it becomes an awesome tapestry."
12:00 AM EST
August 18, 2010