IPCR Student Studies ‘the Troubles’ Firsthand in Ireland

By Purnell T. Cropper | December 10, 2010

By Michelle Tooker ’07

Sarah Vogel ’11 originally began graduate work in anthropology, but the advocate in her found that it wasn’t the right fit. She wanted to travel to sites of international conflict and research real-world solutions.

“Arcadia’s International Peace and Conflict Resolution program is a much better fit for me,” she says. “It offers me the opportunity to study abroad and to apply my studies through a required internship.”

Vogel recently returned from the IPCR experience to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. There, students saw the stark divide between the Catholic and Protestant communities. This helped them to understand concepts they’d discussed in class such as the difficulty in achieving real peace in the aftermath of violent conflict and the power and limitations of mediation and the possibility for integrated healing.

“I have understood for some time now that American media is not the best at portraying what is happening in the rest of the world, but I was shocked to learn all that I did, and that practically nothing had been televised in the U.S. concerning the Troubles,” she says. “For instance, most young people know the song Bloody Sunday by U-2, but I would bet a vast majority of them have no idea what that song is about.”

IPCR students also had the chance to interact with local university students about their thoughts on peace.

“I was honored to meet and speak with some students from the University of Ulster in Derry/Londonderry,” says Vogel. “They have a firsthand experience I cannot relate to, but hearing their stories was very powerful to me.”

While the IPCR students traveled around Ireland, they also had the opportunity to bond and learn from one another.

“The highlight of my trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland was getting to know my classmates better,” she says. “I learned a lot just by traveling, but being surrounded with bright and intelligent young people really made all the difference in how I began to comprehend the conflict in Northern Ireland.”

Before she graduates from the program next December, Vogel plans to take the Conservation of the Environment in Costa Rica course and attend the American Graduate School in Paris, France, to study Human Rights and Diplomacy.

“I have learned so much about the world and about myself through travel, I would recommend study abroad to anyone,” she says. “You can only teach so much in the classroom, and while technology has made learning at all levels more interactive, it is not the same as getting on a plane and going somewhere you have never been before.

“Through the travel experience that Arcadia has provided and the requirement of an internship, I expect my experiences in the IPCR program to be extremely beneficial to my career and my ability to work in a diverse and fast-paced environment.”