Episode 1: Whirlwind

Posted By: EllenGraham
Posted On: September 7th, 2018
Attending: Waterford Institute of Technology

Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! Throughout my year-long stay in Waterford, I aim to blog as much as possible about my experiences as a student, basketball player and coach, and everything in between. Thank you for reading in advance and I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey through¬†Ireland ūüôā

Belfast

Our journey as scholars began with a week-long training program in Belfast. While there was a ton of information to absorb about Sport Changes Life as an organization and the multiple programs that they operate, it was an exhilarating¬†time for all 30-something of us nonetheless. We were able to talk and play sports with some bright youth from Belfast’s surrounding communities¬†in two eHoops sessions. We also visited some community centers like R City and St. Peter’s Immaculata. You could tell that the youth we were working with really looked up to us,¬†and I think they as well as the Victory Scholars had a blast during our sessions. I know I did!

Before we toured the Giant’s Causeway (which was absolutely breathtaking), we got to spend the morning with students at Limavady High School on their first day. Anyone could see that they were nervous about starting a new school, but once the Scholars got the chance to sit down¬†with them during lunch and chat, they really opened up. One group I was chatting with got on the topic of cultural differences between Ireland and America, like how they call a gas station a petrol station. Not only that, but the youth absolutely roasted me for my Chicago accent. I thought I got enough of that going to school on the East Coast! It was all in good fun though and we enjoyed ourselves.

Dublin

At the end of the week, we all said our goodbyes before departing for our respective schools across the country. Even though we’d only just met, we had all gotten very close during that short first week. Needless to say, those goodbyes were harder than I thought they would be. Alyssa and I got right off the bus in Dublin and met up with our U16 Wildcats team since they were playing in a pre-season tournament in the area. We got to coach the girls for two games and they made us look good by giving us our first two wins as coaches!

Waterford (Finally)

After the tournament, we finally made our way down to Waterford and got settled into our new apartment. Dan,¬†Alyssa, and I will all be living in the same apartment as our other roommate, Sinead. Despite not having classes, Alyssa and I had a full week of training, coaching, and orientation. That’s not to say we didn’t have a little fun though! Our coach’s father, John, took Alyssa and me¬†to the beach at Tramore and it was gorgeous. No matter where you go in Ireland the scenery is beautiful, but I was particularly struck by the landscape there. We were able to explore downtown Waterford as well. The city has commissioned artists to paint gorgeous murals on buildings. My goal is to try and find them all! There’s definitely some great Instagram potential there.

                 

While it has been a crazy first few weeks, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so thankful for this opportunity and I want to make the most of it not only for myself, but for the youth that I’ll be working with. A busy schedule is the best way to do that! I believe that sums up the whirlwind that has been my first few weeks in Ireland. Keep checking in for more updates on my journey! #victory

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