Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Get ready for the Year of Ireland and Irish Heritage

A blogger named McGee can't help being excited about this year's "Year Of" program, so much so that I gave the blog a green makeover for the occasion!

As most of you probably know, the "Year Of" program focuses each year on a different region of the world. Through cross-disciplinary study and special events, students gain understanding of different cultures' faiths, practices, beliefs, social norms, art, literature, businesses and geographies. Since its beginning in 2003, the "Year Of" program has explored the Americas, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Russia, the Mediterranean, the Indigenous Peoples of North America, Oceania, and now Ireland and the Irish diaspora. The "Year Of" program helps prepare members of the Reinhardt community to become true "citizens of the world."

"The 'Year Of' program is extremely important because it allows the students, the faculty and the staff to explore and learn about different regions, different cultures and different peoples they would probably never learn about in ordinary circumstances: their cultures, beliefs, lifestyles, histories, folktales and literature," said Michael Martinez, director of the Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center and chair of the Year of Ireland committee. "With this new understanding, hopefully everyone will come to better realize that even though people have different languages, live in different areas and have different beliefs, we are still people of one world, and must learn to coexist in...peace and harmony."

Of this year's subject, Martinez said, "Ireland is extremely interesting because there are a lot of people in this region whose ancestors came from Ireland and intermixed with other cultures and the native population. You must understand your past if you are going to have any kind of a future."

The first major event for the Year of Ireland is a visit from speaker Kevin Conboy on September 22 at 6pm right here in the library. Mr. Conboy is a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States and the current president of the Atlanta chapter of the Ireland Chamber of Commerce. He will be speaking on economic development in Ireland and its ties to the southeastern United States. On October 18, just in time for Halloween, acclaimed storyteller Betsy Doty will be here to tell spooky and traditional Irish tales. The event to which I'm looking forward the most is the visit from the Atlanta Irish Music School in February. After their performance the group will lead attendees in a brief Irish dancing lesson! You can also look forward to an Irish Country Fair in March, timed to coincide with St. Patrick's Day.

There will be a film and discussion series again this year, starting with the comedy Waking Ned Devine on September 15. Other movies scheduled for this semester will be Michael Collins, My Left Foot, Circle of Friends and The Kings. Watch this space for further information about the film series.

We will be having the "Year Of" essay contest again this year. To enter, submit an original essay on an Ireland-related subject to Stephanie Olsen in the library. This can be a review of an Irish movie, book, or "Year of" event, a paper written for a class, or original research of your own. The essay must be at least a page in length. The writers of the best essays of each month will receive a Year of Ireland t-shirt (designed by our own Ms. Olsen) and be entered into a drawing for a Nintendo Wii to be given away at the end of the year.

We will also be having periodic Irish trivia questions. This month's trivia question is "According to Celtic mythology, who had four eyes in her back and led the Fomorii into battle against Partholon?" If you think you know the answer, email Stephanie at A winner will be chosen each week from among the correct responses; this winner will also be awarded a Year Of Ireland t-shirt. The luck of the Irish be with you!

For more information about the Year of Ireland, see the official page here. I will also be keeping this space updated with Year of Ireland events and activities. Slán leat!

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